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What’s the Difference between Alzheimer’s and Dementia?

Despite being an incredibly rewarding stage of life for most people, the golden years also come with their fair share of challenges. Chief among them, the increased risk of developing certain age-specific diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. But while both of these conditions are serious enough to warrant close attention, they are not synonymous and in some instances may require different treatment options from one another.

Alzheimer’s Disease vs. Dementia

Alzheimer’s disease is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that affects the brain and slowly causes impairments in memory and cognitive function. It is the root cause of approximately 60-70% of all cases of dementia. It’s still unclear what makes one more susceptible to Alzheimer’s, although it is believed that genes play an important part, as does having a history of head injuries and/or depression. No proper cure for Alzheimer’s exists at the moment, but there are several treatment options that can significantly lessen its symptoms. Although early-onset Alzheimer’s does occur, most of the people who develop this condition are over 60 years old.

Falsely referred to as a disease, dementia is a wider syndrome that encompasses various symptoms without clearly-defined diagnoses. Basically, it acts as an umbrella term for all the illnesses that affect cognitive abilities such as memory and reasoning, the most common of which is Alzheimer’s disease. While we’ve already established that Alzheimer’s is incurable, several other causes of dementia may be addressed through medication and physical therapy.

Symptoms and Treatments

While there is significant overlap between the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and those of dementia, it’s important to distinguish between them in order to pursue adequate treatment. Memory impairment and a decline in the ability to think characterize both issues, but Alzheimer’s also tends to bring about feelings of disorientation and noticeable behavioral changes. In the latter stages of the disease, difficulty speaking, swallowing or walking is also commonplace, making it essential that a home care assistant be present at all times in order to help the patient in his or her daily life.

While reversing either dementia or Alzheimer’s is impossible, the former is more treatable than the latter. Depending on which type of dementia one faces, there is medication available to address the situation. For instance, preventing damage to the brain’s blood vessels is essential in vascular dementia, while drugs such as cholinesterase inhibitors have shown their efficiency in warding off the mental symptoms of the syndrome. Meanwhile, Alzheimer’s is not yet treatable, but there are many drugs that focus on alleviating specific symptoms such as memory loss, sleep deprivation and depression.

Overall Outlook for Patients

Since about 10% of all people develop dementia at some point in their lives, and 6% of which will have Alzheimer’s, these problems need to be addressed as early as possible. If the proper treatment avenues are pursued, patients can look forward to enjoying many years of sound mind and good health. The professionals at Home Care Assistance Cincinnati are available to help anyone facing dementia or Alzheimer’s lead an independent life and ensure that those golden years stay golden no matter what.

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