Understanding the Difference Between Alzheimer’s and Dementia

March 13, 2019 | BY PHS Staff

At Preferred HealthStaff, we’ve occasionally heard Alzheimer’s disease and dementia used interchangeably. Both of these ailments have some major similarities, but there are some differences as well. As your local Alzheimer’s home care experts, we thought we would give you the information you need to tell which is which.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common causes of dementia. It accounts for at least half of dementia cases, and the actual number could climb as high as seventy percent according to some sources. This particular form of dementia means symptoms like confusion and impaired speech and thought. Eventually it could also lead to aggression and other mood changes. Feelings like depression and apathy are common among clients with Alzheimer’s.

Another thing to understand about Alzheimer’s disease is that a doctor won’t say that someone has it with absolute certainty. A combination of brain imaging and medical evaluations can give them a good indication of what’s wrong though, despite there being no specific test that will simply tell you that you have this ailment.

What is Dementia?

Dementia is a group of symptoms that can include impaired thinking and memory. It can be caused by Alzheimer’s disease, but that’s not the only potential cause. Other ailments like Huntington’s disease can also lead to the development of dementia. Because there are many potential causes, it’s important for a doctor to know everything about your symptoms and current lifestyle. Knowing about your medications, medical history, or alcohol usage can all help your physician figure out a potential source of the dementia and a route forward.

Generally, dementia affects memory, communication capabilities, reasoning skills, and focus. Some forms of dementia can even affect visual perception, making it harder to see movement or even making someone see something that isn’t there. Personal hygiene can also become an issue. Someone in the early stages of dementia may begin having trouble taking care of themselves like they used to.


The Differences

The primary difference is that when a person is diagnosed with dementia, they’re being diagnosed with a series of symptoms. Let’s say that you’re sick and you have a runny nose and upset stomach. You’re diagnosed with those symptoms, but an underlying cause isn’t always chosen. In some cases it’s not obvious what’s causing the dementia symptoms in an elderly client, so they won’t be diagnosed with a particular disease.

On the other hand, someone can receive a diagnosis for Alzheimer’s disease specifically. Alzheimer’s disease is also not reversible, unlike some forms of dementia. It’s an incurable, degenerative disease that will continue to affect someone over time. We should also note that it’s possible to develop two different forms of dementia. This is commonly known as mixed dementia and it’s hard to diagnose.


Your Home Care Services Provider in Fairfield, PA, Martinsburg, WV and Surrounding Areas

If someone you know is in need of Alzheimer’s care or dementia home care, contact us at (717) 642-8500 today. At Preferred HealthStaff we have the skills and experience needed to help all of our clients age in place with dignity. Please contact us today.