October 22, 2021

Alzheimer’s and Dementia – What’s the difference?

One of the most common questions we are asked as Care Experts is exactly this question?

As the older population grows and more people are diagnosed with Dementia, it only stands to reason why we should all try to understand a bit more about the disease and learn how can help those who are living with the effects of memory loss in our communities.

After studying Dementia for over 10 years and working with people who are experiencing their own Dementia journey, as a new columnist to the Algarve Lifestyle Magazine, I would like to fully embrace the opportunity to pass on some of the most important things I have learnt and help people to understand what Dementia is. The more people understand this condition, the more chance we have together of recognising when someone needs support.

Over the next few months, I will be bringing you information about looking after yourself and others, offer top tips on Dementia Care and other social care matters as well as sharing with you some of the real-life stories of other people’s experiences.

To answer the subject of this month’s question, is quite simple, the behaviours caused by Alzheimers and Dementia are both very similar so it’s easy for people to get confused when they refer to the terms used.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive brain disease, which means that it worsens over time. It destroys memory and thinking skills and in later stages, physical functions. In the early stages, memory loss and other symptoms are mild. In late-stage Alzheimer’s, people can no longer communicate or respond to their environment.

Most people with Alzheimer’s first show symptoms when they’re in their mid-60s. But about 5% develop symptoms before age 65. When that happens, it’s called early-onset Alzheimer’s.

Scientists don’t know what causes Alzheimer’s, but research is providing further confirmation about how the condition progresses.

People with Alzheimer’s experience physical symptoms as well as cognitive ones because neurons in the brain stop functioning, lose connections with other neurons, and die. Neurons are needed to send messages between different parts of the brain and from the brain to various parts of the body.

The damage typically starts in the part of the brain that’s responsible for forming memories. As more neurons die, more parts of the brain are affected. In the final stage of Alzheimer’s, damage has spread throughout the brain and the brain itself has shrunk significantly.

Alzheimer’s vs Dementia

Dementia is not a disease in itself. Dementia is a word used to describe a group of symptoms that occur when brain cells stop working properly, Alzheimer’s is a type of Dementia.

Dementia is caused when the brain is damaged by something such as a stroke, multiple TIAs (transient ischemic attacks or mini strokes), injury, or diseases like Alzheimer’s. Other common forms of Dementia include Parkinson’s, Vascular Dementia, Lewy Body. Some people have more than one for of Dementia such as Alzheimer’s with Lewy Body, this is called mixed Dementia.

If you are concerned about your memory or someone else, it is important to talk to them and to understand what they might be feeling. There are several useful organisations that can help to advise you including Algarve Care Services and if you would like further information about living with Dementia please get in contact at kelly@algarvecare.com or visit our website Algarve Care Services

Algarve Care Services

Algarve Care Services are an Award Winning Homecare Provider that coordinates and delivers quality care to older adults and adults with disabilities.
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