Alzheimer's vs. Dementia

Mar-2-2015

All too often, Alzheimer's and Dementia are used interchangeably as one in the same. While there is a relation, it is important to identify the difference.

Dementia

The Alzheimer's Association defines dementia, not as a specific disease, but as a general term for a decline in mental ability sever enough to interfere with daily life. It's used to describe a set of symptoms associated with the decline of age.

Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's Disease is the most common form of dementia, causing memory loss. It accounts for 60-80 percent of all dementia cases. It's important to know that Alzheimer's is not just something that happens because of old age. It is most common in the elderly because of the nature of the disease. It progresses overtime to only become more noticeable as individuals age. In its earliest stages, individuals will struggle with memory loss that can eventually lead to an individual's inability to converse or respond to their environment. Currently, treatment of Alzheimer's is unable to stop the progression of the disease. However, it can delay the increase in dementia symptoms.

Other forms of Dementia

Vascular Dementia or Mixed Dementia

Form of dementia that affects an individual's thought process due to brain damage from slowed blood flow to your brain. This could be caused by stroke or other conditions that reduce blood flow, depriving the brain of vital nutrients.

Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Problems with memory
  • Inability to control urination
  • Confusion
  • Decrease in executive function skills such as planning and problem solving
  • Dementia with Lewy Bodies

    This is the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer's. Protein deposits, known as Lewy bodies, grown in the regions of your brain that affect memory, cognitive thinking and movement.

    Symptoms include:

  • Hallucinations; people, shapes or colors that aren't actually there. This is one of the first signs of Lewy body dementia.
  • Slowed movements
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion & memory loss
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Parkinson's disease

    Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that over time, affects movement.

    Symptoms include:

  • Tremors
  • Stiffness of the muscles
  • Balance issues
  • Loss of unconscious movements
  • Writing & speech difficulties 
  • Frontotemporal dementia

    This form of dementia covers disorders that affect the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. Symptoms can be varied depending on the portion of the brain affected. Dramatic changes in personality, behavior and emotions are all symptoms of this form of dementia.

    Symptoms:

    Behavioral changes

  • Inappropriate actions socially
  • Lack of interpersonal skills
  • Lack of hygiene
  • Overeating
  • Movement Related Disorders

  • Weakening of the muscles
  • Muscle spasms
  • Tremors 
  • Rigid movement
  • Lack of coordination 
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD)

    While very similar to Alzheimer's, progression of CJD is much faster than other forms of dementia, ultimately resulting in death. It is estimated that one case is diagnosed per million individuals each year. Due to quick progression of this disease, individuals may fall into a coma, suffer from heart failure or succumb to other respiratory infections.

    Symptom:

  • Impaired cognitive skills
  • Accelerated mental deterioration
  • Sudden movements
  • Speaking difficulties
  • Impaired vision
  • Normal Pressure hydrocephalus

     Occurs when fluid builds up in the brain's ventricles, which can cause damage to nearby brain tissues.

    Symptoms:

  • Difficulty Walking
  • Impaired cognitive skills
  • Inability to control urination
  • Huntington's Disease 

    Huntington's disease affects the nerve cells in the brain which has a large impact on an individual's functional abilities. Unlike many other forms of dementia, Huntington's disease can begin affecting an individual as early as their 30s.

    Symptoms:

  • Sudden movements
  • Rigid movements
  • Impaired balance
  • Challenges focusing
  • Difficulty learning
  • Caring for those with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia can be challenging . Look to the experts at PineCrest for certified, special care for your loved ones. Being the only true memory support program in the area, PineCrest truly sets itself apart from the rest. With private rooms, walking paths and a memory garden we are able to exceed the "normal" living standards. For additional questions about our memory support and resident options, contact us today!