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What is the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s?

Is dementia the same as Alzheimer’s? In fact, the two are not one and the same. Dementia encompasses all memory impairment symptoms. Dementia is not considered a disease, but rather a syndrome. It’s a collection of symptoms that affect the parts of the brain that control functions such as memory and reasoning. There are many forms of dementia, and some people may even experience more than one type of dementia throughout their lifetimes.

Alzheimer’s, on the other hand, is a disease. Responsible for 50 to 70% of all cases of dementia, Alzheimer’s is just one form of dementia. Alzheimer’s and dementia symptoms can overlap, but there are some distinctions between the two.

What are the differences between dementia and Alzheimer’s symptoms?

While Alzheimer’s does carry its own specific set of symptoms, dementia symptoms can easily overlap due to the fact that there are many forms of dementia.

Both Alzheimer’s and dementia may cause:

  • Memory impairment
  • Difficulty communicating
  • Struggling with reasoning
  • Challenges with independently completing tasks

Symptoms typically associated with Alzheimer’s include:

  • Trouble recalling new conversations
  • Feelings of depression
  • Confusion
  • Impaired decision-making
  • Trouble with walking, talking, or any type of physical movement

While these symptoms are more closely linked to Alzheimer’s, certain forms of dementia may mimic a lot of those symptoms. For example, Parkinson’s disease can cause impaired posture and loss of unconscious movements and balance. These symptoms can be prevelant in the later stages of Alzheimer’s as well. You can find another example of overlapping symptoms in vascular dementia. Some of the most common signs of this form of dementia are confusion and disorientation, which can indicate Alzheimer’s as well.

What are the differences between dementia and Alzheimer’s treatment options?

While neither dementia nor Alzheimer’s have a cure, there are several ways to manage some of the symptoms associated with each. Some treatment options include:

  • Occupational therapy
  • Environmental modification
  • Medications
  • Alternative medicines
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