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Alzheimer's disease and dementia are two different Diseases


Posted on October 11, 2011 by DementiaGuide

The Difference between Dementia and Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's disease and dementia are two very different things

The difference between dementia and Alzheimer's disease is a very common question and a source of a lot of confusion since the two terms are often used interchangeably. They aren't interchangeable. Alzheimer's Disease and dementia are two very different things. The difference between dementia and Alzheimer's is that Alzheimer's is a type of dementia. Dementia is a symptom and can be caused by other disorders aside from Alzheimer's.

Dementia:

Dementia is an impairment of thinking and memory that interferes with a person's ability to do things which he or she previously was able to do. Dementia is a symptom much like pain is a symptom. Many different injuries and illnesses can cause pain - the same is true for dementia. When you go to the doctor because you hurt, you won't be satisfied if the doctor diagnoses "pain" and sends you home. You want to know what is causing the pain, and how to treat it. "Dementia" simply means the symptom of a deterioration of intellectual abilities resulting from an unspecified disease or disorder of the brain.

There are many different causes of dementia and Alzheimer's is just one of them.

Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's disease is a specific disease that causes dementia. It is a progressive brain disease. Alzheimer's destroys brain cells, causing problems with memory, thinking and behavior severe enough to affect work, lifelong hobbies or social life. Alzheimer's gets worse over time, and it is fatal. It is the most common form of dementia.

Alzheimer's disease is particularly common in older people. Because it is the most common cause of dementia, Alzheimer's disease is commonly equated with the general term dementia. However, there are many other causes of dementia. To be clear, Alzheimer's is a type of dementia and that is the main difference between dementia and Alzheimer's.

What's the difference between dementia and Alzheimer's and why is there so much confusion?

It's a common question, and doctors are some of the best at confusing the public. Physicians sometimes prefer the word "dementia", possibly because Alzheimer's has become such a loaded word. "Dementia" somehow sounds less frightening to many people, and now even the experts have started using the words interchangeably.

Distinguishing the difference between other types of dementia and Alzheimer's disease is not always as easy and straightforward as defining these terms. In practice, people and their disorders of behavior are far more complex than simple definitions sometimes commonly imply.

Remember, the main difference between dementia and Alzheimer's is that Alzheimer's is a specific disease and dementia is a symptom of Alzheimer's.

To help people better understand Dementia, we have created SymptomGuide. SymptomGuide is a service created by Dr. Kenneth Rockwood, a Geriatrician andauthor of more than 300 papers and 7 books in the field.

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Last updated August 13, 2014
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