Understanding the Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

When someone you care for begins to show signs of cognitive decline, it can be become a stressful and time for everyone involved. Much of this fear comes from not knowing what the future holds or what’s causing the cognitive changes. Often, family members or caregivers will refer to these changes as dementia or Alzheimer’s, frequently using the terms interchangeably.

While many people confuse dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, the two are distinctly different from one another. To help you understand and better care for someone you love, let’s take a minute and discuss how dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are different.

Understanding Dementia

Dementia isn’t a singular disease, but rather a larger umbrella term that’s used to describe a decline in cognitive performance and memory. According to the National Institute on Aging, dementia can be described as the loss of cognitive functioning and behavioral abilities to the point that it begins to interfere with a person’s daily activities. This includes a decline in memory, reasoning and general thinking skills. Sometimes, a person’s language skills, attention span, visual perception and ability to maintain self care are also involved.

What’s important to remember about people who are exhibiting signs of dementia is that these symptoms aren’t a normal part of aging. Our memory and reflexes may slow down as we age, but signs of dementia can indicate that something more serious is the cause – for instance, Alzheimer’s disease.

What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Currently, there is a lot that we don’t yet understand about Alzheimer’s. What we do know is that Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that leads to an irreversible decline in memory and cognitive function. Alzheimer’s is also one of the leading causes of dementia, contributing to 60-80% of all cases. While Alzheimer’s disease occurs primarily in people over the age of 65, there are nearly a quarter of a million people in the United States that suffer with early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Due to the progressive nature of Alzheimer’s, the person living with it will begin to exhibit a decline in the ability to recall simple things and manage daily tasks. The progression of Alzheimer’s disease is different with each person. Some will experience a rapid onset of symptoms that make take years to develop in someone else with the disease. At some point during the course of the disease, it often becomes necessary to move the person into a memory care facility that provides compassionate Alzheimer’s care.

Living with Dementia and Alzheimer’s

Dementia and Alzheimer’s can affect a person’s quality of life. This makes it extremely important to make every effort to help the person live as independently and safely as possible. This may involve helping them set and adhere to a medication schedule, making sure they attend scheduled appointments and keeping them active, both physically and socially.

It’s natural to be worried about a loved one who is living through dementia or Alzheimer’s. One way to ease your mind and provide them with a quality living environment is by researching memory care facilities in your area. At Lexington Square, we offer experienced, compassionate Alzheimer’s and dementia care. We encourage you to call us and let us provide you with information, comfort and peace of mind that you need.

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