Many people are under the false assumption that both Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are the same thing. However, this is incorrect. Alzheimer’s disease is often a cause of dementia, but this is where their link ends.
Dementia is not a disease. It is a set of symptoms affecting mental tasks, including reasoning and memory. Causes DO include Alzheimer’s, but can also include Huntington’s and Parkinson’s, as they are all degenerative diseases.
While it is true that Alzheimer’s is the cause of 50 -70% of all dementia cases, HIV, strokes, vascular disease, depression and chronic drug use may also be causes of dementia.
As dementia progresses, it can impede people’s ability to function independently. Early symptoms can often be mild and not really obvious. They may forget small things, such as where they have put their keys or an appointment time. They may find themselves lost in familiar surroundings.
As it gets worse, people start to forget names and faces. Personal care, including hygiene, becomes more difficult. In the advanced stages of dementia, people aren’t able to look after themselves. People, time and places are more confusing and, as behaviors change, they may become aggressive and/or depressed.
The good news is that dementia, including the one caused by Alzheimer’s disease, can be well treated and managed. The patients can get support to ensure they have a good quality of life, whether it is at home or in a specialized living facility.
Alzheimer’s IS a disease. It progresses slowly and starts to impede cognitive functions and memory. Younger people can get this disease as well, but it is more common in people over the age of 60 years.
Unusual proteins create tangles and plaques in the brain, so many connections between cells start dying. As the disease becomes advanced, the brain shows a lot of shrinkage.
Mixed Dementia is regarded as a possible third option. Patients suffering from mixed dementia have multiple medical conditions that contribute to their dementia, and some are believed to have both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.
Clarification for caregivers.
It is essential to get a proper diagnosis, so that the best treatment can be offered. Even though there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease at the moment, patients can still be cared for, and not left to fend for themselves in isolation.