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

Image symbolizing the question: what's the difference between Alzheimer's and dementia?

When it comes to the care and safety of a senior loved one, only the best will suffice. But when considering long-term care and residential facilities, it can be hard to know what to look for when searching for the “best.” This can be especially difficult when a senior loved one suffers from memory-related issues. There appears to be a good bit of confusion in the community surrounding the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia. When looking at the two conditions, it’s easy to see where the confusion comes from, as the two carry very similar causes and symptoms. One might wonder: “if the two are so similar, why is it important to distinguish them?” Yes, the two are similar, but there are stark differences between them that must be understood if quality care is to be ensured. 

Alzheimer’s and dementia fall under the category of memory care due to their overlap in symptoms. Still, the memory care provided to someone with dementia may stand in contrast to the memory care provided to someone with Alzheimer’s disease. The stage and progression of the condition must also be taken into account. Both dementia and Alzheimer’s disease has different stages, varying the severity through which someone might experience symptoms. When researching senior memory care services for senior family members, consider Buckner Westminster Place, where the needs and requirements of residents are embraced and practiced at the highest standard. For more information, call us today at 903.329.6520

What Are the Similarities and Differences Between Dementia and Alzheimer’s?

While there is a great deal of overlap between the two conditions, essential differences must be addressed when determining the best form of care. Most significant of these differences is that while Alzheimer’s disease is, in fact, a disease, dementia is not. Dementia is an umbrella term that describes various symptoms causing physical and psychological impairment. To obtain a dementia diagnosis, patients must experience at least two of the following symptoms:

  • Memory impairment
  • Issues with communication, speech, and expressing emotions
  • Cognitive problems such as difficulty in concentration or focus
  • Impaired judgment and reasoning
  • Issues in visual perception, such as hallucinations or the inability to detect movement

Another noticeable difference between the two comes from their definitions. Alzheimer’s is considered a form of dementia, meaning that anyone living with Alzheimer’s disease is also living with dementia. However, having dementia does not automatically guarantee that someone has Alzheimer’s disease. Many different forms of dementia can be diagnosed, some of which include: 

  • Vascular dementia
  • Dementia with Lewy Bodies
  • Mixed dementia 
  • Frontotemporal dementia
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Normal pressure hydrocephalus

Each of these conditions is caused by alterations in certain brain sections. Each shape affects the brain differently, producing different symptoms and side effects. 

Dementia or Alzheimer’s Stages: What’s the Difference?

Another difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia pertains to their stages. Both are considered to be progressive and do not have a cure. This means that as time progresses, the severity through which symptoms are experienced is likely to increase. Although the particular stages are different, dementia has seven stages, whereas Alzheimer’s typically has three, and the progression of each disease is very similar. The first stage of each condition is marked by mild signs and symptoms that can be mitigated through treatment. As one might imagine, the last stage of both Alzheimer’s and dementia contains the most severe symptoms.

At the final stage, individuals become entirely dependent on the assistance and care of others to complete activities such as eating, dressing, and bathing. While the symptoms of each stage can be treated, mitigating the progression of symptoms, there is no way to halt this progression entirely. Treatment focuses on slowing the progression of symptoms as much as possible. When the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia present themselves, professional help should be sought immediately so that the symptoms of these conditions can be treated as soon as possible.  

Learn More About the Similarities and Differences Between Dementia and Alzheimer’s at Buckner Westminster Place

Old age comes with its own set of challenges and difficulties. Watching older family members go through cognitive decline is heart-wrenching, and often, figuring out how to best support them can be confusing and overwhelming.

At Buckner Westminster Place, we deeply understand the complexities and struggles that come with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Our specialized memory care curriculum includes evidence-based methods at its core, aiming to not only slow the progression of cognitive decline but also to enhance our residents’ quality of life by promoting a socially fulfilling lifestyle.

Happiness and contentment in later life are achievable goals, regardless of the cognitive challenges one might be facing. We believe that with the right support, individuals can continue to lead joyful and meaningful lives.

Our mission at Buckner Westminster Place is to go above and beyond for our residents. We want to ensure not just their physical safety and health, but also their emotional well-being and happiness. We can provide a nurturing and caring environment where every resident can enjoy life to the fullest, supported by a team of professionals who truly care.

For more information on our memory care curriculum or to schedule a tour of our facility today, reach out to the Buckner Westminster Team at 903.329.6520 or use our online contact form.