People often question what the difference is between Alzheimer’s and dementia. Often, even medical personnel will interchange the two when discussing a patient’s progress; using a phrase such as “Her dementia is worsening” after a family has been told their loved one has Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s is a disease. Dementia is not a disease; but, instead it is a symptom of various diseases or physical issues. Dementia is a symptom of Alzheimer’s, so while someone may refer to the patient with Alzheimer’s they will quite often address the most obvious and common symptom of the disease, which is the dementia. I have had clients come to me and comment that they’ve asked their physician “Well which do they have, Alzheimer’s or dementia?” and a physician’s answer will quite often be a coverall for both by saying, “It’s really a horse a piece and one is relevant to the other.” I feel that many times this is a physician’s way of saying that what they address are generally the symptoms of the disease of Alzheimer’s because we know that, at this time, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s. Instead the focus is on the symptoms and how to keep the patient’s symptoms under control and progressing as slowly as possible. Instead of an in depth discussion of what dementia truly is, families of Alzheimer’s patients often have health personnel addressing symptoms and this can confuse people into thinking that the symptom is actually a disease itself.
What often confuses people is that a person who shows signs of dementia does not necessarily have Alzheimer’s disease. However, according to the Alzheimer’s Association the disease accounts for between 60-80% of dementia cases. Dementia can be a symptom of many other diseases or conditions such as strokes, vitamin deficiencies, Parkinson’s disease, and even thyroid problems. This is why it is imperative that if you sense any changes in a person’s memory or mind thought process you seek medical advice immediately.
Because dementia affects one’s ability to remember and think properly it is often incorrectly referred to as “senility” and even more often thought that “senility” or dementia is an acceptable aspect of aging. Let me be clear, dementia and senility is not an acceptable part of the aging process and should always be addressed as soon as any changes are noticed.
On January 30th the Long Island Alzheimer’s Foundation (LIAF) is holding their 26th Annual Coping & Caring Conference & Awards Luncheon, at the Hilton in Long Island. Featuring guest speaker G. Allen Power, MC, FACP & author of Dementia Beyond Drugs: Changing the Culture of Care. The event will be focused on providing vital tools & education to families, caregivers, and those affected by Alzheimer’s. There will be professionals there to answer questions and provide information regarding Alzheimer’s disease. For more information on this event please call 516-767-6856 immediately as seating is limited. Click here to view the brochure for this wonderful event!
Dedicated To Your Health & Well-being (and safety),