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What is the Difference between Alzheimer’s and Dementia?

The information below was adapted from the following website, which was updated on January 24, 2017:

http://www.alzheimersreadingroom.com/2014/08/difference-between-alzheimers-and-dementia.html

This brief blog article is not intended to provide a diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your health care provider and/or conduct your own research. Much information is readily available on these topics and we encourage you to investigate further.

There tends to be a lot of confusion about the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia.

The terms “Alzheimer’s” and “dementia” are often used interchangeably, but they are different. Dementia is a syndrome, whereas Alzheimer’s disease is the cause of the symptoms.

Dementia is not a specific disease. Instead, dementia describes a group of symptoms affecting memory, thinking and social abilities severely enough to interfere with daily functioning. Although dementia generally involves memory loss, memory loss has different causes. Therefore, memory loss alone does not mean a person has “dementia.”

As mentioned, dementia includes a group of symptoms, the most prominent of which is difficulty with memory, together with additional problems in at least one other area of cognitive functioning such as language, attention, problem solving, spatial skills, judgment, planning or organization.

These cognitive problems represent a noticeable change compared to the person’s cognitive functioning earlier in life and are severe enough to get in the way of normal daily living, including social and occupational activities.

A good analogy for the term dementia is “fever.” A fever refers to an elevated temperature, indicating that a person is sick. However, it does not give any information about what is causing the sickness.

In the same way, dementia means there is something wrong with a person’s brain, but it does not provide any specific information about what is causing the memory or cognitive difficulties.

Dementia is not a disease, rather it is the clinical presentation or symptoms of a disease.

There are many possible causes of dementia, some of which are reversible such as certain thyroid conditions or vitamin deficiencies.

If those underlying problems are identified and treated, then the dementia can possibly be reversed and the person can return to normal functioning.

If you notice any changes in your own behavior or in a loved one’s behavior, no matter how subtle, seek medical advice immediately. Knowledge is power!

Image from:
The Alzheimer’s Reading Room website (above)

2017 © Norma-Jean Strickland