image showing neurons with overlay of words alzheimers disease and dementia.

Dementia vs Alzheimer’s Disease: Major Differences

Dementia and Alzheimer’s are often used interchangeably but they are not the same. Dementia is an umbrella term, like heart disease, which refers to the decline in memory and cognitive abilities significant enough to interfere with daily life. On the other hand, Alzheimer’s is a specific disease that comes under the umbrella of Dementia.

This article will help you understand the differences between the two terms – Dementia and Alzheimer’s.

What is Dementia?

We can understand Dementia as a group of symptoms relating to the decline in memory, reasoning, and other cognitive abilities including communication, behavior, and feelings. You should note that Dementia is NOT a part of a general aging. The symptoms of Dementia are caused due to damage to brain cells thereby affecting different brain functions.

What is Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease caused due to cell damage. The disease results in complex brain changes. Forgetfulness is one of the earliest symptoms caused by Alzheimer’s which then progresses into various other symptoms of Dementia. Alzheimer’s is one of the most common causes of Dementia. Apart from forgetfulness Alzheimer’s causes symptoms like disorientation, confusion, behavior changes, and even difficulties in speaking, swallowing, and walking.

Differences in Dementia and Alzheimer’s

As we now know Dementia and Alzheimer’s we can see distinctions between the two. Alzheimer’s is one of the causes and reasons for Dementia. While Alzheimer’s is a specific disease Dementia is a term to describe a set of symptoms, including symptoms caused due to Alzheimer’s.

According to the statistics of the World Health Organization (WHO) about 55 million people around the globe are living with Dementia of which 65% are affected with Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia can be caused due to other reasons including infections such as HIV, vascular diseases, stroke, depression, chronic drug abuse, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, etc.

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Some symptoms of Dementia and Alzheimer’s can overlap. But the symptoms of Dementia include many other symptoms caused due to other diseases or conditions like Parkinson’s or Huntington’s. Memory impairment, for example, is a symptom of Alzheimer’s as well as Dementia. But, symptoms of Dementia like visual hallucination, and difficulties with balance are not the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

There’s no cure for Alzheimer’s. Though most causes of Dementia aren’t reversible, a few forms of Dementia are treatable.

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