The Difference in Alzheimer’s Disorder and Dementia

Are Alzheimer’s Disorder and Dementia the same thing?

dementiaThough the two terms are often used in place of one another they are, in fact, separate. Dementia is an umbrella term for the symptoms, and Alzheimer’s is one of the diseases that cause dementia.

 What are the symptoms of Dementia?

 Symptoms of dementia include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Impaired cognition
  • Loss of memory
  • Confusion
  • Inability to follow instructions
  • Loss of awareness of surroundings
  • Behavioral changes
  • Changes in personality
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Deliberate isolation
  • Anger or aggression
  • Depression

Some forms of dementia, of which Alzheimer’s is one, cannot be cured.

Other forms of dementia are caused by environmental issues or illnesses and can be cured or reduced with treatment.

 What is Alzheimer’s Disorder?

 Alzheimer’s Disorder – or AD – is an illness which usually affects the elderly. It accounts for up to 80% of dementia cases, and is a gradual cognitive decline which eventually results in personality changes, behavior issues and a loss of independence or cognition. There are no known treatments, and those with Alzheimer’s do not recover.

Alzheimer’s disorder usually occurs in people over 65, though there are some cases of early-onset Alzheimer’s Disorder with symptoms beginning in the person’s 30’s or 40’s.

 What is dementia?

Dementia is an umbrella term for a group of symptoms caused by a variety of illnesses and disorders.

The sliding scale of dementia means that many people suffer to different degrees, but commonly they can’t perform day to day tasks, are easily confused, are unsure of their surroundings, and are very forgetful.

Dementia can be caused by a number of illnesses.

These include:

  • Alzheimer’s Disorder
  • Vascular Dementia – caused by impaired blood supply to the brain.
  • Fronto-temporal Dementia – abnormal proteins in the frontal and temporal lobes.
  • Lewy body Dementia – abnormal proteins in nerve cells, similar to Parkinson’s disease.
  • Pseudo-dementia – in patients with depression or schizophrenia.

There are also very curable conditions which, with the right medication, are simple to cure which can cause symptoms of dementia. These are:

  • Vitamin deficiency
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Neuro-syphilis

About the Author:Dr. Michael Tuchman