What came first, Alzheimer's or Dementia?
Alzheimer’s and dementia are often used interchangeably, and while they do have some similarities, they are inherently different. In fact, did you know that it is possible to have a form of dementia completely unrelated to Alzheimer’s disease?
Here is a defining overview of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia:
Disease vs. group of symptoms
Dementia is not a disease. It is actually a group of symptoms that affects mental tasks like memory and reasoning. Dementia is a problem of the brain more likely to develop with age, and can be caused by a variety of conditions, the most common of which is Alzheimer’s disease (responsible for 50-70 percent of dementia cases).
Alzheimer’s, on the other hand, is a progressive disease of the brain that slowly impairs memory and cognitive function. The exact cause is unknown and there is no cure. The time from diagnosis to death can be as little as three years in people over 80 years old.
Potential warning signs
Early signs of dementia are subtle and can be easily overlooked, such as occasional forgetfulness and difficulty keeping track of time. In the most advanced stage, dementia patients are unable to care for themselves as time, places, and people become more confusing.
Alzheimer’s damages the brain years before symptoms. Abnormal protein deposits form plaques and tangles in the brain, and connections between cells are lost and they begin to die. In advanced cases, the brain shows significant shrinkage. In fact, according to an article on Healthline, it is actually impossible to diagnose Alzheimer’s with absolute certainty while a person is alive.
Possible treatment options
While in most cases, dementia cannot be reversed, many forms are treatable, and the right medication can help manage symptoms. Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients can benefit from supportive services like home health aids and other caregivers to ensure proper nutrition, exercise, and environmental adaptations are taken.
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