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Understanding the Difference bewteen Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease

Posted on October 27, 2009 by DementiaGuide

Dementia vs. Alzheimer's Disease

Understanding the Differences between the two

Millions of people suffer from dementia. What is surprising is that most people don't understand dementia; for example many do not understand the difference between dementia vs. Alzheimer's disease. This basic misunderstanding causes many cases to go undiagnosed and untreated. The main misconception is that Alzheimer's and dementia are synonymous. This is not the case.

Dementia vs. Alzheimer's disease: Understanding the Differences between the Two:

What is dementia? Dementia refers to the loss of memory and other cognitive skills due to changes in the brain caused by disease or trauma.

Cognitive functions that might be affected by dementia include:
  • decision making/judgment
  • memory
  • spatial orientation
  • thinking/reasoning
  • verbal communication
  • neglect of personal safety, hygiene, and nutrition
  • coordination or balance

What is Alzheimer's disease? Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia. Alzheimer's is a brain disease characterized by lesions that gradually destroy cells in the brain. As nerve cells die, affected areas of the brain wither and become smaller. The areas of the brain that control memory, logical thinking, and personality are generally the most affected. As areas in the brain become smaller, cavities within the brain containing fluid become enlarged.

Symptoms of Alzheimer's disease are similar to dementia and include the following:
  • Loss of recent memory
  • Problems with language, calculation, abstract thinking, and judgment
  • Depression, anxiety, and personality changes
  • Unpredictable quirks or behaviors
  • Late in the disease, delusions and hallucinations
  • Trouble knowing time, date, or place

"Dementia" is a deterioration of intellectual abilities and is a symptom of unspecified disease or disorder of the brain. Alzheimer's disease is just one disease that causes dementia. When you compare dementia vs. Alzheimer's disease you are comparing a symptom to a disease.

There are many different causes of dementia and Alzheimer's is just one of them. Alzheimer's is the most common kind, but other kinds include vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia and frontotemporal dementia.

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