If you have older people in your family or circle of friends, do the words ‘dementia’ or ‘Alzheimer’s’ come up?  Do we interchange these words and assume they are one and the same?

So let’s discuss this a bit more.  Dementia is kind of a universal catch word that is based on memory loss.  It is about a group of symptoms that might alter one’s abilities to function in their normal life.  Dementia is not an actual disease but other diseases can cause dementia. What is Dementia?

Two types of changes would indicate dementia.  Cognitive changes and Psychological changes are most noted.

Some of the cognitive changes might be:

  • Confusion and Disorientation 
  • Memory Loss, usually noticed by another person
  • Trouble planning and organizing
  • Reasoning or Problem Solving

Some of the psychological changes noted might be:

  • Paranoia
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Personality Changes

Subcategories of Dementia or Alzheimer’s

Dementia is the universal term for all diseases related to memory loss.  They are subcategorized under ‘progressive’ and ‘other’.

Some dementias are even treatable or some patients can recover from.  But the most common forms of Dementia that we refer to are the Progressive ones.

Progressive Dementias

    • Alzheimer’s Disease
    • Vascular Dementia
    • Lewy Body Denentia
    • Frontotemporal Dementia
    • Mixed Dementia

Types of other disorders linked to memory loss might be:

    • Huntington’s Disease
    • Parkinson’s Disease
    • Traumatic Brain Injury
    • Creutzfedlt-Jakob Disease

While none of us really want to face these diseases, it seems beneficial to at least be aware of some of the larger scale symptoms.

Alzheimer’s Disease

This is probably the most common cause of dementia which is why the two words are often interchanged.  Dementia or Alzheimer’s?  Dementia is the umbrella word that Alzheimer’s falls under.

Alzheimer’s is caused by several issues.  It can be genetic but all patients have plaque and tangles in their brain.  These tangles damage healthy neurons thus inhibiting the flow of information.  Because it is the most common it seems likely why the two words are often interchanged.  It is not correct though.

Conclusion – Dementia or Alzheimer’s?

In the future when discussing Dementia with family it would be wise to understand these concepts and use Dementia when there is not diagnosis of what type of Dementia.  If your loved ones are diagnosed with Dementia, give us a call.  We might be able to help.  Transition Care Telemetry