Are Alzheimer’s & Dementia the Same Thing?

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While the terms “dementia” and “Alzheimer’s disease” are often used interchangeably, there are some key differences. Essentially, dementia is the umbrella term that describes a range of memory loss conditions, including Alzheimer’s. Here’s a closer look at the two types of diseases and the key differences between them.


The word “dementia” doesn’t describe a specific disease. It refers to a syndrome that affects cognitive function, but it doesn’t necessarily define a particular diagnosis. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, and people who exhibit chronic memory loss are most likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. However, Alzheimer’s disease isn’t the only type of dementia.  If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of senior care families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

Causes & Symptoms of Dementia

There are many potential causes of dementia. The condition can be caused by lifestyle habits like alcohol abuse or by specific conditions like Parkinson’s disease. People who are diagnosed with dementia usually exhibit several symptoms of cognitive impairment, including inaccurate visual perception, poor concentration and judgment, memory loss, and communication difficulties.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common types of dementia. Nearly 80 percent of people with dementia have Alzheimer’s, and it’s a progressive disease. Currently, there’s no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease, which means seniors can only manage the symptoms rather than reversing them.  Caring for older adults with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or other serious health issues can be challenging. Families who find it difficult to care for their aging loved ones without assistance can benefit greatly from professional respite care. Des Moines, IA, family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties can turn to Home Care Assistance. Using our proprietary Balanced Care Method, our respite caregivers can encourage your loved one to eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of mental and social stimulation, and focus on other lifestyle factors that promote longevity.

Causes & Symptoms of Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease occurs when protein plaques and fibrous tangles begin to accumulate in the brain. These plaques destroy key nerve cells and impair cognitive function. For most seniors, the damage first manifests as memory loss. At first, the memory loss may be indistinguishable from normal age-related cognitive decline. However, eventually, the condition becomes chronic. Other common Alzheimer’s symptoms include mood changes, aggression, disorientation, and navigational difficulties.

Other Types of Dementia

Many conditions fall under the umbrella term “dementia.” It’s important for seniors and their caregivers to understand this distinction, because while Alzheimer’s is a progressive condition, other types of dementia are reversible.  Vascular dementia is a form of dementia that generally manifests after a stroke. The symptoms of the disease depend on which areas of the brain were damaged by the stroke, but common signs include poor decision-making skills, speech difficulties, agitation, and mobility issues. Frontotemporal dementia is caused by cellular damage, and its symptoms include a lack of social inhibition, behavioral changes, and muscle spasms.  Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is a type of dementia that usually affects heavy drinkers. The disease is related to a vitamin B1 deficiency, and memory loss is its primary symptom. When people with Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome limit alcohol consumption and restore their body’s vitamin B1 levels, the symptoms can be reversed. Aging adults with serious medical conditions can benefit from professional in-home care. If your senior loved one needs help managing an illness or assistance with daily tasks, make sure you choose a top-rated provider of in-home care. Des Moines Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one live a happier and healthier life in the golden years. From the mentally stimulating activities in our Cognitive Therapeutics Method to our friendly Care Managers who are available to answer your questions 24 hours a day, we offer a wide array of high-quality at-home care services. To create a customized in-home care plan for your loved one, call us at (515) 264-2438. 


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