Alzheimer’s and dementia are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but there are actually key differences among them. While the former refers to a condition, the latter is an all-encompassing term used to describe a series of symptoms. Here, we take a closer look at the differences between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia to cultivate a better understanding of the terms.
Dementia: A Series of Symptoms
Dementia is often referred to as an “umbrella term” which refers to a number of different symptoms. In broad terms, these symptoms affect an individual’s ability to perform daily tasks independently. More specifically, the symptoms can include behavioral changes, declining memory, altered thinking or reasoning skills, and reduced focus.
Alzheimer’s is one condition which contributes to dementia, but it is not the only condition linked to this set of symptoms. In fact, it’s possible for people to suffer from more than one type of dementia, and more than 47 million people are affected by it worldwide. There are other types and causes of dementia, such as Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
Alzheimer’s: A Specific Condition
One of the simplest ways to remember the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia is to think of Alzheimer’s as a condition, while dementia is a syndrome. Alzheimer’s is responsible for between 60-80% of all dementia cases, making it the most common form of dementia.
Alzheimer’s is progressive, meaning it worsens over time. It destroys the memory as well as other critical mental functions, which is why patients often experience significant personality changes over time. A decline in social and intellectual skills also impacts the condition’s sufferers. While the majority of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease are 65 and older, an estimated 200,000 Americans are younger than 65 and suffer from early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Although there is currently no known cure for this condition, it is still possible for individuals who have been diagnosed to enjoy a high quality of life. Implementing lifestyle changes and enlisting the help of specialists are among the best ways to proactively manage Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia.