Are Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease the Same Thing?

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The short answer to this question is no. Dementia is a group of symptoms caused by various conditions or diseases.  Unlike Alzheimer’s, which is progressive and irreversible, some causes of dementia can be reversed or partially treated.  For this reason it is essential that doctors make a thorough diagnosis to prevent missing treatable conditions that could lead to dementia. The frequency of treatable dementia is believed to be about 20 percent.  Alzheimer’s disease causes 50% to 60% of all dementias, although there are dozens of additional causes of dementia.

Both Alzheimer’s and dementia involve loss of mental functions including memory, thinking and reasoning.  Both can also cause changes in mood, personality and behavior.

The causes of dementia include, but are not limited to:

  • Toxic reactions to excessive alcohol or drug use
  • Diseases that affect blood vessels, such as stroke
  • Diseases that cause the degeneration of nerve cells, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease
  • Head injury
  • Illnesses in other parts of the body, such as the lungs, kidneys or liver

Scientists know that Alzheimer’s causes progressive brain cell failure, but the cause is less clear. Age is the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s; however, the condition is not a normal part of aging, as is sometimes the misconception.  Hallmarks of Alzheimer’s are plaques (clumps of protein) that damage and destroy brain cells, and “tangles,” threads of a type of protein called tau that twist into abnormal tangles inside brain cells.

Seeing a loved one struggle with loss of memory and independence associated with dementia or Alzheimer’s can be difficult. The goal of the caring, compassionate staff at Always Best Care is to create a comfortable living environment for seniors where they can maintain as much independence as possible.  We offer in home care, as well as assisted living elder care facilities. Visit our website for more information, or call us toll free for a consultation at 1-855-470-2273.