Alzheimer’s versus dementia
What is the difference between Alzheimer’s and Dementia? People often use these terms interchangeably. Their confusion is understandable. The words are related.
Dementia is a broad term for neurological disorders which cause significant memory loss, confusion and cognitive difficulties. These symptoms may or may not include personality or behavioral changes.
Around 20% of dementias can be cured or at least treated. “Dementia” has replaced the formerly used term,“senility”.
Alzheimer’s is a specific brain disease which falls inside the general category of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for roughly 75% of all cases. There is currently no cure, although researchers have made great strides in recent years in better understanding the root causes of the disease.
Although younger people can develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, a person’s risk does increase as they age. Even so, neither is an inevitable part of growing older.
What is dementia?
Dementia itself is not a disease. Dementia includes a range of symptoms, the most prominent of which is memory difficulties or loss. Other common problems with cognitive functioning include speech, attention-span, reasoning, spatial skills, judgment, organization and planning. These cognitive problems are a noticeable change compared to the person’s cognitive functioning earlier in life and are severe enough to interfere with normal life activities.
A person’s chance of developing Alzheimer’s doubles every five years from age 65 to age 85. By age 90 and above, one third or more of the population displays moderate to severe dementia. The good news is that this means two-thirds have only minor, if any, dementia symptoms.
Dementia can be caused by a variety of conditions, the most common of which is Alzheimer’s disease. Other causes include:
- Vascular dementia
- Parkinson’s disease
- Mixed dementia
- Huntington’s disease
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
- Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)
- Brain tumors and lesions
As dementia progresses, it can have a major impact on one’s ability to function independently. It’s a major cause of disability for older people, and places a difficult burden on family members who act as caregivers. This not only takes an emotional toll, it can also require an enormous time investment.
SarahCare of Campbell has a lot of experience caring for Alzheimer and dementia patients. Our trained and experienced staff is certified in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and dementia care. We can provide daily care for your loved one Monday through Saturday, giving family caregivers much needed time off.
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease of the brain that slowly impairs memory and cognitive function. The exact cause is still unknown and there is currently no cure. Treatment focuses on slowing the disease’s progression through medication, consistent daily routines, cognitive therapy puzzles and gentle physical exercise to the extent of the patient’s ability.
Providing consistent physical and emotional support begins with the patient’s primary caregivers. Qualified senior daycare centers like SarahCare of Campbell can extend this support system throughout the day. For patients who do visit daycare centers, studies have shown that regular visits are the most beneficial to the patient, because they provide the comfort of familiar routine and structure.
SarahCare of Campbell works with Alzheimer’s patients on a daily basis. Our experienced staff applies the latest techniques to best provide our participants with the specialized care they require, along with the affection, attention and patience that is so beneficial to them.
Early-stage Alzheimer’s begins with a loss of memory of recent events. The disease worsens with time, progressively impairing cognitive functions. The onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease is unique to each patient.
With time, confusion, mood instability, irritability, aggressive behavior, trouble with speech and comprehension and greater memory loss appear. Social interaction decreases. Body functions slowly deteriorate leading eventually to death. It is difficult to predict the course of the disease or life expectancy because every patient is unique.
It’s impossible to conclusively diagnose Alzheimer’s in a living patient. The diagnosis can only be confirmed when the brain is examined under a microscope. However, according to the NIH, specialists can now correctly diagnosis Alzheimer’s patients with 90% accuracy using the latest screening protocols.
Prevention and treatment
Good lifestyle choices may significantly delay, slow, or possibly even prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia. Evidence suggests there are several things we can do to diminish or prevent symptoms. These include:
- Eat Healthy. Minimize processed foods, refined sugar and excess sodium in the diet. Alzheimer’s and dementia are more prevalent among people who are obese, have type-2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
- Control blood pressure. Don’t smoke. Limit alcohol intake. Take medication to lower high blood pressure. The target is 120/80. The closer one gets to this ideal level, the better for every organ in one’s body, including the brain.
- Exercise. Maintain an active lifestyle to keep the heart healthy and provide more oxygen-rich blood to the brain. Walking, biking and swimming for at 30 to 60 minutes a day are fun and easy ways to get important aerobic exercise.
- Socialize. Spend time with family, friends and loved ones for good mental health. Studies suggest that strong social ties to one’s community, whether through Church, civic groups or volunteer organizations, may decrease the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
- Seek mental stimulation. Exercising the mind is also important. Crossword puzzles, Sudokus, chess and reading are all good workouts for the brain. “Use it or lose it” applies as much to our brains as it does to our bodies.
- Think positive. A positive outlook on life isn’t just good for the soul; it’s good for the brain too. Counting our blessings, letting go of grievances, loving our friends and forgiving our enemies not only make us happier, they help us live longer too.
Hope for the future
It is important to understand that while Alzheimer’s and dementia are fairly common late in life, they are not a normal part of aging. Just as medical science is making constant breakthroughs to extend our life-spans, research is surging ahead in the field of dementia and Alzheimer’s treatments and eventual cures.
Entrust your loved one to our certified Alzheimer’s and dementia experts
At SarahCare of Campbell we offer many programs to stimulate and engage your loved ones to keep them healthy in mind, body and spirit. Our staff is trained and certified by the Institute of Professional Care Education in caring for adults and seniors living with dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.