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What Is the Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimers?Kim Trevey on Oct 22, 2023 | Bader House of Plano BlogThe words Alzheimers and dementia are often used in the same sentence and even interchangeably, as if theyre the same disease.But this isnt true.In fact, one of these isnt a disease at all.What is dementia?Dementia is not a disease in and of itself but rather a word that describes a group of symptoms related to neurodegeneration, which is a deterioration of cells in the brain. Symptoms of dementia include memory loss; difficulty with reasoning or judgment; changes in thinking skills, language and behavior; and a decrease in the ability to focus.Several conditions can cause dementia, including Alzheimers disease, which would be considered a type of dementia.Other types of dementia include:1. Huntingtons diseaseHuntingtons Disease is a type of dementia is hereditary and usually shows up earlier in life, between the ages of 30 and 50.Along with impairing memory and cognitive function, the first symptom of Huntingtons disease is often uncontrollable movement in the upper body.2. Lewy body dementiaLewy bodies are abnormal deposits of protein in the brain that cause hallucinations, imbalance in the body and attention issues.3. Vascular dementiaVascular Dementia is a type of dementia represents 10% of all dementia cases.It is caused by restricted blood flow in the brain due to blockage in the blood vessels and can lead to stroke or brain bleeds.4. Parkinsons disease dementiaThis type of dementia occurs in those with Parkinsons disease who also experience a decline in thinking and reasoning skills.5. Mixed dementiaWhen the changes in the brain are caused by multiple types of dementia, this is known as mixed dementia.The most common form of mixed dementia is caused by conditions related to Alzheimers disease and vascular dementia.Dementia is more than the natural decline that comes with aging. Dementia signifies damage that has been done to the brain cells to the extent that it is interfering with a persons cognitive function and abilities.What is Alzheimers disease?Named after physician Alois Alzheimer, who was the first to link memory loss symptoms with changes in the brain, Alzheimers disease is the leading disease that causes dementia, causing 60-80% of cases.Alzheimers is a degenerative brain disease that affects cognitive functions such as memory, learning new information, thinking, reasoning, and logic. Symptoms increase and worsen over time.An estimated six million Americans are living with Alzheimers today, most of whom are over the age of 65. About 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 have younger-onset Alzheimers.Is it Alzheimers disease or another form of dementia?Alzheimers disease can be diagnosed through a series of tests conducted by your doctor, whether thats your primary care physician, a neurologist, or a geriatrician. These tests include mental status testing and neuropsychological testing.Mental status testing tests your thinking and memory skills. Your doctor can score how well you do on these tests to determine your level of cognitive impairment.Neuropsychological testing is often conducted by a neuropsychologist. This series of tests will also test your memory and thinking skills but will additionally test if youre able to perform daily functions normally and if another mental condition, such as depression, could be causing your memory loss.Your doctor will also conduct tests to rule out any other factors that could be resulting in Alzheimers-like symptoms, including:brain tumornutritional deficiencyautoimmune diseasemetabolic imbalancereaction to medicationan infectionsubstance abuseYour doctor may also interview family members or people close to you to discuss any changes in your behavior theyve noticed.The bottom line is extensive testing is available that can give you a proper diagnosis of Alzheimers disease or another form of dementia. You can even get tested before you start showing symptoms with the use of MRIs, genetic testing and testing of the liquid around your brain and spinal cord. Your doctor can determine if you are a good candidate for early testing.Understanding the world of neurodegeneration can feel overwhelming, but knowing the difference between Alzheimers disease and dementia can help you determine what symptoms you or a loved one are experiencing and how to approach your doctor.With extensive and ongoing research, specialists have been able to identify the numerous forms of dementia, their causes and possible treatments that wont necessarily cure dementia but can help curb symptoms and improve the quality of life for patients and the loved ones who care for them.
What is Dementia?Dementia is actually not a disease in and of itself but, rather, a syndrome that is characterized by a collection of symptoms affecting cognition and memory, making it hard to remember, think clearly, and make decisions. Alzheimers disease is the most common cause of dementia, although its important to note that not all people who have been diagnosed with dementia necessarily have Alzheimers Disease. Some other types of dementia typically identified are vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, frontal temporal and mixed dementia.What Are Some Dementia Symptoms?All of us have occasional problems recalling a name, accessing an old memory, or remembering where we may have parked our car. But someone living with dementia will exhibit a range of troubling and persistent symptoms that get worse and may include: Changes in mood and personality Decreased or poor judgment Problems speaking or writing Confusion with time or place Disruptions in daily life due to memory loss Difficulty managing everyday tasks Repetitive behaviorsIf your loved one is exhibiting any of these symptoms, its important to know that it does not necessarily mean a dementia diagnosis; infections and dehydration, vitamin deficiencies, and depression can present many of these signs. However, if any of these symptoms persist or worsen, its essential that you consult a physician who can make a diagnosis. Its also helpful to know that no single test can make a determination; a diagnosis is based on a range of medical tests, creating a baseline, and an individuals medical history.How Quickly Does the Disease Progress?Dementia is a progressive condition it gets worse over time, not better. For some, the disease progresses rapidly; in others, it takes years to get to the point where outside help is required. The progression depends largely on the underlying cause, whether it be Alzheimers disease, Lewy body disease, Parkinsons disease, or some other root condition. While people will experience the stages of dementia differently, most will exhibit some of the symptoms. On average, dementia patients will live four to eight years after their diagnosis, although some live as long as 20 years after being diagnosed.Does Dementia Only Affect Seniors?Dementia is more commonly diagnosed in people over 65, but it can affect people in their 30s, 40s, or 50s. The estimated average age of onset of dementia in the U.S. is 83+ years old.How Can We Help After A Dementia Diagnosis?If someone has been diagnosed with dementia, its important to know there are expert resources available to both you and your family members that can help you navigate the progression of the disease. The sooner you familiarize yourself with them, the better. As Certified Dementia Practitioners, the advisors at Senior Care Authority can help you decide on the right help at the right time, including setting up in-home visits, scheduling respite care, learning important communication skills, and helping you decide on an assisted living situation, should that be warranted. It is so important to remember that you are not alone. We have helped hundreds of families respond to the challenges of a dementia diagnosis, and we can do the same for you, too. To find out more about the symptoms of dementia and how we can help, get in touch with Senior Care Authority today.
Transitioning Alzheimers Patients to HospiceMaking the Transition to Hospice with Alzheimers and Other Forms of DementiaAlzheimers disease and other forms of dementia are progressive diseases that eventually lead to end of life for those suffering. When your loved one reaches more challenging stages of dementia, hospice care is extremely valuable. Hospice is a specialized type of care that focuses on comfort and quality of life for patients who are terminally illwith a prognosis of six months or less if their disease runs its normal course.How to Transition to Hospice Care with Ease and Peace of MindTransitioning to hospice care can be a difficult decision, but it can also be a relief for both patients and caregivers. Hospice care can provide your loved one with the support and care they need during their final months of life. You do not need to wait until the very end to initiate hospicewhich is a common misconception. To transition to hospice care with ease and peace of mind, here are a few tips:Talk to your loved ones Primary Care Physician (PCP). If your loved one does not have a Primary Care Physician, we can help you obtain an order for hospice care. The PCP will write an order to initiate hospice. This is step one.Get to know the hospice team.Once you meet with us, you will be assigned a team of caregivers who will work with you to create a care plan for your loved one. The hospice team will include nurses, social workers, aides, and other professionals who are skilled in caring for people with dementia.Let us take care of the rest!We will bring in all necessary supplies and durable medical equipment (DME) that your loved one will need to be safe and comfortable in the place they call home.More Ways We Can HelpOur Hospice agency can provide a variety of services to help you and your loved one transition to hospice care. These services may include:Caregiver support. Hospice offer a variety of support services for caregivers, such as respite care, support groups, and counseling.Symptom management. Hospice will help manage your loved ones symptoms, such as pain, nausea, and anxiety.Spiritual support. Hospice offers spiritual support for patients and their families, regardless of their religious beliefs.Volunteers. Hospice volunteers are a vital part of our program and offer a variety of services to you and your loved one.If you are considering hospice care for your loved one with Alzheimers or another form of dementia, please contact us today. We make the process simple, letting you focus on what matters most!