The terms “dementia” and “Alzheimer’s disease” can be confusing and are often used interchangeably. Many people believe they are synonymous, but the two words mean two entirely different things.
Contrary to popular belief, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are not the same. Dementia is an overall term used to describe symptoms that impact memory, performance of daily activities, and communication abilities. Whereas Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease tends to get worse with time and affects memory, language, and thought. While younger people are not completely out of risk and can develop dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, your risk significantly increases as you age. Still, neither is considered a normal part of ageing. Although symptoms of the two conditions may overlap, distinguishing them is important for management and treatment. Read to find out the basic differences between these two, symptoms and causes.
What is Dementia?
Dementia is a syndrome, not a disease. Therefore, dementia is a group of symptoms that affects mental cognitive tasks such as memory and reasoning. Dementia is an umbrella term that Alzheimer’s disease can fall under. It can occur due to a variety of conditions, the most common of which is Alzheimer’s disease. According to the World Health Organization says that 47.5 million people around the world are living with dementia.
Symptoms of dementia
1. It often begins with simple episodes of forgetfulness. People with dementia have trouble keeping track of time and tend to lose their way in familiar settings.
2. With time, forgetfulness and confusion grow. People have trouble recalling names and faces. Personal care becomes a problem. Obvious signs of dementia include repetitive questioning, inadequate hygiene, and poor decision-making.
3. In the most advanced stage, people with dementia become unable to care for themselves. There might also be aggressive changes in behavior which can turn into depression and aggression.
Causes of dementia
1. Chronic drug use
2. Stroke or any other cardiovascular disease
3. Infections such as HIV
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease of the brain that slowly causes impairment in memory and cognitive function. The exact cause is unknown and no cure is available. Although younger people can and do get Alzheimer’s, the symptoms generally begin after age 60.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
1. Patients are unable to think clearly and face difficulty in remembering recent events or conversations.
2. Patients often experience difficulty in speaking, swallowing, or walking in advanced stages of the disease.
3. Behavioural changes such as apathy, depression and frustration starts surfacing.
Possible treatments of Alzheimer’s disease
1. There’s no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease but patients are prescribed antipsychotics to control behaviour changes.
2. Medications for memory loss, which include cholinesterase inhibitors are suggested.
3. Medications for changing sleep patterns are also prescribed.