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Difference between Dementia & Alzheimer's

Posted on September 16, 2011 by DementiaGuide

What is the Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimer's?

Many people use the terms" Dementia" and "Alzheimer's" interchangeably, but the two terms do not mean the same thing. Dementia refers to a cluster of symptoms, while Alzheimer's refers to a specific medical disease exhibiting many of the symptoms of Dementia. Some people who exhibit symptoms of dementia may be diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, but others will be diagnosed with a completely different ailment. However, all patients with Alzheimer's will exhibit some degree of dementia.

To complicate things further, people sometimes confuse "senility" with dementia. Some individuals use the term "senility" to refer to the normal decline of memory that occurs with aging, but when cognitive functioning is affected to the point where it interferes with social interaction and independent living, they use the term " dementia". In actuality, senility and dementia are the same - a cluster of symptoms indicating a progressive decline in cognition and memory.

Alzheimer's is #1 Cause of Dementia

Alzheimer's disease is the leading cause of dementia, accounting for about 65% of dementia cases in individuals over age sixty. Because it is the most prevalent form of dementia, it is also widely known and highly researched; ironically, it is still seen as a mysterious and elusive illness with n o cure. There are, however, a number of treatment options that can help slow the progression of symptoms of the dementia if you work closely with your doctor.

Other diseases that cause the symptoms of dementia include Dementia with Lewy Bodies, and Vascular Dementia, the second and third most common causes, respectively. Both forms of dementia are more common in individuals over sixty, but are occasionally seen in younger adults. Likewise, these forms of dementia can sometimes be confused with other illnesses. For example, Dementia with Lewy Bodies is sometimes mistaken for Parkinson's disease because it mimics some of the same symptoms, including characteristic shuffling movements and difficulty with fine motor skills. This is why it is so important to see a doctor if you or someone you know is showing any decline in cognitive function or progressive loss of memory - a definitive diagnosis assures the proper treatment.

When you first meet with a doctor to discuss any symptoms you've noticed in yourself or a family member, keep in minddementia is a "catch-all" term the doctor may use to indicate a broad group of symptoms and is not a diagnosis. Only a thorough physical examination, tests, and careful observation will the physician be able tomake a diagnosis and recommend treatment.

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