Dementia Vs. Alzheimer’s: What’s the Difference?
Updated: Dec 4, 2020
Dementia and Alzheimer’s are two diseases that commonly affect the elderly population. In Palm Beach County in 2018 there were 355 deaths related to Alzheimer’s disease. Whether you are seeking elderly care in Palm Beach County for yourself or your loved one, it is crucial to understand what the signs and symptoms are, so you’ll know when seeking home health aide or companion care assistance might be beneficial.
Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s
Dementia and Alzheimer’s are terms that are often used interchangeably, and many might not be aware of their actual definition or what the signs and symptoms of these conditions are. Dementia is not a disease, it is a syndrome describing symptoms that impact memory, performance of activities, and communication skills. Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia, the most common, and is a disease that affects memory, language, thought, and usually gets worse with time. Dementia or Alzheimer’s are more common among the elderly population, but they are not a normal part of aging. One should be on the lookout for symptoms of development, which will be covered later on in this article.
Dementia As mentioned before, dementia is a syndrome which refers to a group of symptoms that doesn’t have a definitive diagnosis. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. Living with dementia can be extremely debilitating because as it gets worse, it makes it very hard for people to be independent and is a major cause of disability in adults. This can make it hard for the family of the victims as they often try to be the health aide or caretaker themselves, and have to provide a lot of assistance in order to keep their loved one somewhat independent. Other causes of dementia:
Infections such as HIV
Depression Chronic drug use.
Early symptoms of dementia and progression Dementia can be hard to perceive at the beginning because the symptoms often start slowly building up and are very mild. It might start with some forgetfulness, such as people not being able to keep track of time. As the syndrome progresses, more cloudiness and confusion could settle in, and people could begin to forget names and faces of those close to them. This will also start to have more of a negative impact on victims because they will struggle with personal care, hygiene, and decision making. This behavior will typically become worse as the syndrome progresses, which will usually result in a loss of independence as they will not be able to take care of themselves. This will most likely require an in home caregiver if the family is unable to provide care. This caregiver assistance doesn’t have to be full-time, but at the very least, a licensed home health agency can provide some supervision throughout the day so family members can still maintain a job and carry out other tasks.
The cause of Alzheimer’s disease is not known, but it is a progressive and terminal illness of the brain that slowly causes impairment in memory and cognitive function. The average person who develops Alzheimer’s has an estimated lifespan of four to eight years after diagnosis, but can be as little as three years in people who are over 80 years old when diagnosed. However, some live up to twenty years after diagnosis.
Who is affected by Alzheimer’s?
People are generally affected by Alzheimer’s and develop symptoms when they are after the age of 60, but younger people can also develop the disease.
What Alzheimer’s does to the brain?
The dangerous aspect of this disease is that symptoms usually appear years after damage to the brain has already begun. The damage that is done to the brain is that the connection between the cells of the brain begins to die due to abnormal protein deposits, and the brain becomes much smaller.
Symptoms of Alzheimer's include:
Difficulty remembering recent events or conversations
How Can Getting Care At Home Help?
Individuals with dementia, and their family, could greatly benefit with help from licensed caregivers such as Home Health Aides or Companions. For the person suffering, it’s disorienting enough on its own with the memory related challenges. Having to be in an unfamiliar environment can make it that much more stressful for them, not to mention the stress to family members trying to explain the new surroundings constantly. A home health agency can often times provide the additional support needed to allow family members the break they need to keep order in their own lives, while allowing the environment to stay a little more comforting and familiar for the suffering loved one.
The in-home caregiver can be there to provide company, assist with preparing meals, basic housekeeping, drive them to errands /doctors appointments, and most importantly remind them of things that they might forget to do on their own such as taking medications at certain times.
In addition to this, having a companion can help with the mood, as depression is a common symptom of these conditions. There can also be memory focused activities such as looking through old photo albums and doing puzzles to try and keep their memory a little more intact.