If you’re entering your golden years, you may have some questions about dementia. Is it the same thing as Alzheimer’s? Do the same treatments work for both conditions? What’s the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s?
The Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimer’s
When it comes to dementia, there’s a lot of information to wade through, and sometimes it can get a little confusing. One common point of confusion is that people often use the terms “dementia” and “Alzheimer’s” interchangeably, even though they aren’t necessarily the same thing. This confusion can be frustrating for people who are seeking answers about these conditions. Learning the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s can help you ask your doctor the right questions, and make the right plan for yourself and your loved ones.
Alzheimer’s Is Dementia, but Dementia Is Not Always Alzheimer’s
The confusion around the two conditions is understandable once you realize that Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia, but not the only type. Dementia is not a specific condition, but a general term that refers to a decline in memory and reasoning skills in advanced age. Alzheimer’s is a specific disease that causes dementia. In fact, 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases are caused by Alzheimer’s. It’s natural that people mix them up sometimes. However, it is important to understand that they are not interchangeable conditions.
Dementia can be caused by a number of different factors, including brain injuries, neurological diseases, and even some medication interactions. If you suspect you are beginning to develop dementia, you should visit a doctor for an evaluation. They will be able to help you determine a cause and set up a treatment plan.
What Should I Know About Alzheimer’s?
While dementia is caused by many different things, Alzheimer’s has one singular cause. It’s created by complex changes to the cells in the human brain that can take place as you age. It is typically first noticed by seniors who have trouble retaining new information and can increase in severity from there. It is important to note that while Alzheimer’s is a disease that primarily affects aging individuals, there is no evidence that every senior will experience it. The assumption that all seniors eventually develop Alzheimer’s is a hurtful stereotype that can lead to discrimination and other issues. This is one of the reasons it’s important to be specific about what Alzheimer’s is and is not. Many, many seniors retain their mental acuity well into their 70s, 80s, and beyond.
It’s also important for you to empower yourself by understanding Alzheimer’s, especially if it affects you or someone you love. It may seem scary to talk to your doctor about Alzheimer’s, but the fact is that early detection is one of the most effective treatment tools that doctors have. Alzheimer’s currently cannot be cured, but medical science has made great strides in finding ways to slow its progression. The earlier you are diagnosed, the more effective those treatments can be. Early detection can also help you work with your family, friends, and doctors to make a care plan for the later years.
Talking to a doctor about Alzheimer’s is one of the bravest things you can do. It can give you the gift of time, it’s the best way to make sure your wishes are followed and respected, and your loved ones will be very grateful.
Learning the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia is critical. Talk to your doctor about these conditions today, and consider being screened at your next wellness appointment. Help is available if you need it.
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