Dementia and Alzheimer’s Explained

December 18, 2019 12:03 am Published by

More than 50 million people worldwide suffer from some form of dementia. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, making up about 60 to 70 percent of cases. Based on these statistics, most people will experience dementia either firsthand or through a loved one. Despite this fact, many people only have a minimal understanding of what dementia and Alzheimer’s are.

Most people think that dementia and Alzheimer’s are two different diseases, when in fact Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia. It’s important that you understand how to distinguish the two, so let’s learn a little more about each.

What is dementia?

Unlike Alzheimer’s, dementia is not a disease. Dementia is a term used to describe a group of symptoms—a syndrome—related to the loss of cognitive functioning, which includes thinking, reasoning, remembering and behavioral abilities. An individual may have multiple conditions that contribute to their dementia, and they may suffer from more than one type of dementia.

Dementia affects an individual’s ability to reason and perform tasks of daily living. As dementia progresses, it has a huge impact on the individual’s ability to function independently.

Dementia occurs when healthy neurons (brain cells) lose connections with other neurons, stop working and eventually die. As we age, we all lose some neurons, but people suffering from dementia suffer from a greater loss at a faster rate.

In the early stages of dementia, symptoms are typically mild and appear as forgetfulness and confusion. At its most advanced stage, however, people with dementia become confused and forgetful to the point where they can no longer care for themselves.

What is Alzheimer’s?

As mentioned earlier, there are different types of dementia. Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia. In fact, it’s the most common form. It is a progressive disease that negatively impacts memory and cognitive function.

The majority of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease are 60 or older, although younger people can be diagnosed with the disease as well. The time from diagnosis to the time of death can be as little as three years for older individuals. At this time, the exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is unknown, and there is no cure available.

Although the exact cause is unknown, we do know that protein deposits from plaque and tangles in the brain cause connections between neurons to be lost, which causes the cells to die. The brain visibly shrinks as the disease progresses.

While Alzheimer’s symptoms align with those of dementia, there are some differences. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s include depression, disorientation, behavioral changes, impaired judgement and difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking.

If you or a loved one suffers from Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, accessing care can be challenging. Confusion and forgetfulness, particularly in advanced stages, can make getting to doctor appointments difficult, if not impossible. That is where Around the Sound can help. Our staff have the expertise and training to provide non-emergency medical transportation for those suffering from dementia in Tacoma, WA. Let us help you access the care you need. Contact us today to learn more.

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