As some people grow older and transition into new stages of their life, they may become affected by diseases like Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia that cause a decline in memory and make everyday life more difficult. These diseases come in many forms and require different skills to help manage them.
What are the differences between Alzheimer’s and dementia? The answer is that while they are related, they are different.
There are vital factors, medically and behaviorally, that distinguish the 2 conditions. These factors change how we can help community members with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
What is Dementia?
Dementia covers several symptoms and conditions that affect memory, social ability, and thinking that can severely impact a person’s daily life. Dementia is not a disease on its own but a combination of many different diseases that can cause the condition.
Symptoms can vary based on the primary cause of dementia, but most individuals can experience:
- Memory loss
- Loss of spatial & visual abilities
- Confusion regarding date, time, & location
- Visual hallucinations
- Diminished motor skills
- Difficulty balancing & walking
Causes of Dementia
The condition can result from vascular disease, lewy bodies, frontotemporal shrinkage, and Alzheimer’s disease. Most cases are mixed dementia, characterized by a person exhibiting multiple causes of dementia.
What is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s disease causes the brain to shrink slowly over time and damage brain cells. It typically begins in the region of the brain that controls memory. As the condition progresses, people with Alzheimer’s can experience:
- Progressive memory loss
- Changes in behavior
- Increased confusion
- Impaired judgment
- Difficulty communicating
- Emotional indifference
Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia. Over 5.2 million Americans over 65 are affected by Alzheimer’s, with women accounting for almost two-thirds of all Americans affected.
Causes of Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s researchers have focused on 2 proteins; plaques and tangles:
- Plaques are fragments of larger proteins that cluster together, forming larger deposits, leading to cellular damage.
- Tangles are forms of tau proteins that change shape and organize themselves into structures, disrupting the system that transports nutrients around the brain.
The exact causes of Alzheimer’s are unknown. The most commonly attributed causes are genetics, lifestyle, and environmental factors.
The Key Differences Between Alzheimer’s and Dementia
While related, Alzheimer’s and Dementia cause individuals to exhibit varied symptoms and require different levels of care and expertise to ensure a fulfilling and joyful life.
A person with Alzheimer’s might experience memory loss, changes in behavior, and some confusion. On the other hand, a person with dementia might experience a loss of motor skills, more severe confusion, and hallucinations.
How to Tell if Someone is Experiencing Alzheimer’s or Dementia
Early Alzheimer’s symptoms to look for in your loved ones over the age of 65 include:
- Changes in mood or behavior
- Difficulty with short-term memory
- Unfamiliarity with daily tasks
- Repeating statements or stories
- Impaired judgment & decision-making
- Distrust in others
Early dementia symptoms include:
- Increased paranoia
- Getting lost more easily
- Loss of motor function
- Difficulty communicating
A person with Alzheimer’s or dementia will need more attention as the condition progresses to keep them safe, joyful, and fulfilled. As you care for your loved one through this new stage of their life, you may see the need for more specialized care options.
Why Some People Need Specialized Care
The decision to access full-time care for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias can be challenging. What about their autonomy and freedom? In many cases, a person’s condition may progress to a point where their safety and wellbeing are in question.
Often with advanced cases, individuals can become distrustful of those around them, even the people they know and love the most. As a caregiver, you might not be ready or able to provide the level of care your loved one requires to be happy and fulfilled. Situations may occur that put you in a difficult position when it comes to keeping your loved one safe. Memory Care professionals are able to handle these types of situations while maintaining a person’s dignity and respect.
Boutique Memory Care
At Foxtrail Senior Living, we take pride in offering Memory Care options for your loved ones. Every resident’s diverse needs, lifestyles, and unique interests are part of creating a personalized memory support experience.
We design our memory care services to keep residents engaged and fulfilled, exercising their cognitive abilities to stimulate their memory function and strengthen their balance and motor functions.
While most residents with dementia have Alzheimer’s, the 2 conditions often require different and specialized care. Engaging activities and dedicated staff ensure that your loved one’s wellness is always at the center of our care approach. Our Foxtrail Senior Living community provides home-style apartments that give residents a familiar space to continue living a joyful, pleasant, and healthy lifestyle.