YOU may have heard the terms dementia and Alzheimer’s disease used interchangeably and feel confused about what they mean.
They affect millions of people worldwide and are the leading cause of death, devastating large numbers of families.
Here we explain the difference between the two terms, along with everything else you need to know…
What is the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease?
Dementia is a general term used to describe a decline in a person’s mental abilities.
It is an umbrella term, as there are many different types of it.
It accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases, which is why the names can sometimes be used interchangeably.
What is amnesia?
Dementia is when a person’s mental decline is severe enough to interfere with their daily life.
It is known for the problems it causes with thinking, reasoning and memory – as these are areas of the brain that are damaged.
There are now 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, more than ever before and the number is expected to grow, Alzheimer’s Research UK says. There are many others who have yet to receive a diagnosis.
More than half of the population knows someone who has been diagnosed with dementia, and one in three people born this year has been told they have it.
There are different types of dementia, with each associated with a specific type of brain cell damage. This will determine the type of symptoms they get.
There are two main groups of dementia that can be divided into, but some conditions fall into both categories:
- cortex, which causes severe memory loss (like Alzheimer’s disease).
- The inferior cortex, which affects the speed of thought and activity (such as Parkinson’s disease).
Another common form of dementia, after Alzheimer’s, is vascular dementia.
Both are rare in young people under the age of 65.
Other common forms of dementia are frontal dementia, which is mainly diagnosed in people under age 65, and Lewy body dementia, where nerve damage gradually gets worse over time. time causes motion to slow down.
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s is a specific form of dementia. It is a degenerative brain disease caused by complex changes to the brain following cell damage.
High levels of protein mess up and surround brain cells, leading to damage and cell death. Communication between brain cells slowly fades away.
Brain cells in the hippocampus of the brain are usually affected first. This makes it difficult to remember things because the hippocampus is the center of learning and memory.
Alzheimer’s leads to symptoms of dementia such as problems with short-term memory, difficulty paying bills or remembering appointments.
Symptoms worsen over time, as a person may lose the ability to speak or write properly, perform everyday tasks such as getting dressed, or remembering their loved one.
People with Alzheimer’s disease can also become confused, aggressive, and sometimes have outbursts of anger or violent behavior.
What are the main symptoms of dementia?
Dementia symptoms vary depending on the cause. But common signs and symptoms include:
- memory loss, often noticed by a spouse or other person
- confusion and disorientation, such as not knowing the place or time
- communicate or search for words
- follow a chat
- with visual and spatial abilities, such as getting lost while driving
- reason or solve problems
- handle complex tasks
- planning and organizing
- with coordination and motor functions
- personality changes
- inappropriate behavior
Specific symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include:
- memory problems, such as frequently forgetting recent events, names, and faces
- Ask questions over and over
- increasing difficulty with tasks and activities that require organization and planning
- become confused in unfamiliar surroundings
- hard to find the right word
- difficulty with numbers and/or handling money in the store
- become more withdrawn or more anxious
What is vascular dementia?
Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia in the UK after Alzheimer. It occurs when the brain is damaged by a lack of blood flow.
Sometimes people have both vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, leading them to be diagnosed with “mixed dementia”.
If the vascular system in the brain is damaged – causing blood vessels to leak or become blocked – then blood cannot reach the brain cells and they eventually die.
The death of brain cells can cause problems with memory, thinking, or reasoning, and when these cognitive problems are bad enough to affect daily life, it is called dementia. vascular dementia.
Dementia symptoms that are specific to vascular dementia include stroke-like symptoms, symptoms such as muscle weakness, problems with movement and thinking, as well as mood swings, such as depression.
There are several different types of vascular dementia, due to varying degrees of damage to the affected part of the brain.
These include stroke-associated dementia, single- and multiple-infarct dementia, and subcortical vascular dementia.
What are the stages of dementia?
Many cases of dementia begin with early warning signs.
This early stage is called cognitive decline and is barely noticeable or confused with some other illness, such as depression.
These include a few:
- slowness of thought
- difficulty with planning
- trouble with language
- problems with attention and concentration
- changes in mood or behavior
These symptoms may indicate that some brain damage has occurred, and treatment needs to be started immediately before symptoms get worse and more difficult to treat.
Changes often occur in abrupt steps, between periods of relative stability, although it is difficult to predict when these steps will occur – so acting quickly is key.
As well as the symptoms listed above, other possible signs may include feeling disoriented and confused, memory loss and difficulty concentrating, struggling to find the right words, and change severe personality – includes becoming aggressive, having trouble walking, having trouble controlling urination, and seeing things that aren’t there.
The early signs of Alzheimer’s are similar to frequently losing things, forgetting conversations or events, and getting lost on familiar journeys.
How is dementia treated?
There is no specific treatment for dementia, and there is no way to reverse brain damage that has already occurred.
However, treatment can help slow the progression of the condition, and the main aim is to treat the underlying cause to help prevent other problems, such as a stroke.
Medication and lifestyle changes will be encouraged including eating healthy, losing weight if needed, stopping smoking, staying fit and cutting down on alcohol.
Supportives such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech and language therapy are also beneficial, although treatment for dementia can significantly shorten life expectancy.
The median survival time from diagnosis is about 4 years, and most people will die from complications of dementia, such as pneumonia, or from a subsequent stroke.
https://www.thesun.ie/health/332928/what-dementia-alzheimers-difference-symptoms-causes/ What is dementia, how is it different from Alzheimer’s disease, and what are the symptoms and stages of the disease?