Dementia Vs. Alzheimer’s Disease
|Dementia is not a disease but a syndrome with multiple symptoms affecting cognitive ability, like memory loss and thinking ability in a person.||Alzheimer’s is a disease of the degenerative brain causing complex changes in the pattern of the brain.|
|There are a few types of dementia that can be cured with early diagnosis and treatment.||There is no cure for Alzheimer’s. Medication and therapy can suppress the symptoms for the time being.|
|A few severe symptoms of dementia are aggression and anxiety disorders, unawareness of the place and time, sleep problems, and difficulty speaking, walking, and eating.||A few severe symptoms of Alzheimer’s are severe speech problems, immobility, complete or partial memory loss, hallucinations, delusions, stiffness in the body, not able to sit or walk, insomnia, and damage to facial nerves.|
|There are three stages of dementia.||There are seven stages of Alzheimer’s.|
Now let’s break down the complexities of both terms. Below are the different symptoms and treatments of Dementia and Alzheimer’s individually:-
Things To Know About Dementia
Dementia is among the top causes of death, disability, and dependency among older age people globally. Aging is inevitable but having the symptoms of dementia is not equal to old age. Genetics is a factor, as young people have shown signs of early-stage dementia. In addition, decreasing cognitive abilities, referred to as general intelligence, include the capacity to reason, problem-solving, adapt to new things, abstract thinking, learn with experience, and plan. However, getting tested earlier might help you deal with this syndrome more effectively.
Different Stages Of Dementia
There are three important stages of dementia which are listed below:
First Stage( Early Dementia)
The first stage is not considered severe by older people thinking it is the age-related symptoms of forgetfulness, but the accurate picture is different. For instance:
- Keeping track of time and things
- Forgetting ways to your daily familiar places
- Struggling to focus and concentrate
- Speech and Visual problems.
In this middle stage, the symptoms of dementia are not as vague as before, for instance:
- Forgetting names, important events like birthdays or anniversaries of close people
- Starting to get dependent on others for personal care
- Frequent changes in moods, like confusion
- Faulty decision making
- Asking repetitive questions
Third Stage (Severe)
At this severe and last stage of dementia, the person is wholly dependent on their caregivers. The verbal, visual, and physical abilities become alarmingly impaired, such as
- Aggression, anxiety disorders
- Not recognizing your loved ones
- Sleep disturbance, insomnia, and sleepwalking.
- Inability to speak, walk or eat properly
- Become utterly unaware of the place and time
Different Types Of Dementia
As of now, you all know dementia is an umbrella term, and multiple problems fall under this syndrome. However, a correct and effective diagnosis is needed as its symptoms differ from person to person.
1. Lewy Body Dementia
LBD is a progressive disease and gets worse with age. Moreover, it is the second-largest or most common Dementia after Alzheimer’s, affecting approx. 1.4 million people in the United States. Lewy body dementia is the outcome of protein deposits in the brain called alpha-synuclein. The changes start with memory loss and thinking patterns and eventually become severe with fluctuating attention, quickly getting exhausted, loss of physical balance, sleeplessness, speech issues, and hallucinations. In addition, genetics doesn’t play a crucial role in deciding the Lewy bodies of a person. Above all, the only factor is the age that shows the symptoms over time.
2. Parkinson’s Disease Dementia
Parkinson’s disease swiftly damages and destroys healthy brain cells, and there is no cure. This disorder worsens over time, and the speed of progression can vary accordingly. For instance, Parkinson’s disease targets the person’s motor system, losing dopamine-producing brain cells. Initially, it starts with tremors, muscle stiffness, maintaining posture, bradykinesia, and lack of facial expression. Gradually it will lead to depression, sleeplessness, hallucination, skin problems, speaking, etc. Parkinson’s disease progresses after the age of 50 years. Brain scans or laboratory tests can rule out this disease.
3. Vascular Dementia
Vascular dementia occurs when a stoppage or blockage occurs in the blood vessels transferring blood to the brain. The blood vessels in the brain narrow, reducing the amount of oxygen in the blood, resulting in a stroke or brain bleeding. These symptoms may occur suddenly or can take time ranging from mild to severe, affecting the ability to reason. Vascular dementia can also be known to be Transient Ischaemic Attacks or TIAs. Obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, and diabetes will increase the risk of TIAs.
4. Frontotemporal Dementia
Frontotemporal Dementia is a brain disorder that primarily affects the frontal(front part) and temporal lobes(side part) of the brain.
However, it is sometimes misdiagnosed as a psychiatric problem as it can also affect people at a young age. For instance, drastic changes in personality, language or impairment, or loss of speech and behavior are the core symptoms of this dementia. The portion of the frontal and temporal lobe shrinks, causing frontotemporal dementia.
5. Mixed Dementia
When the chemical in the brain changes in two types of dementia, it is called mixed dementia. Alzheimer’s can coexist with Vascular Dementia as well as with Lewy bodies at the same time. Therefore, when the chemical in the brain changes in two types of dementia, it is called mixed dementia. In a live person, mixed dementia is not easy to diagnose. All the symptoms of particular Dementia overlap, making it hard to identify. Still, it deserves more attention because more than one type of dementia can significantly and severely impact brain functioning.
6. Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease
Creutzfeldt-Jakob is a life-threatening disease. It is a degenerative brain disorder that usually progresses much more rapidly. The symptoms are somewhat similar to Alzheimer’s, including personality changes, memory loss, insomnia, difficulty in speaking and swallowing, and jerky movements. In addition, these symptoms worsen over time, and the person can have lung or heart failure or both and slide into a coma. According to studies, about one to two cases per million people each year are diagnosed with this rare disease.
7. Huntington’s Disease
Huntington’s disease (HD) is a degeneration of brain cells, called neurons, in specific brain areas. It causes twitching, mood swings, poor thinking abilities, and psychiatric disorders. It is a purely genetic disorder that passes from parent to child with a 50% probability. If the child doesn’t have the mutated gene, they cannot give it further. HD can further lead to depression and intellectual problems. Medicines can help the patient manage Huntington’s disease’s growing symptoms. But can’t stop the physical, mental, and behavioral issues.
8. Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus
When excess spinal fluid collects in the brain’s ventricles of the person, it results in Normal pressure hydrocephalus. This condition is treated surgically. A shunt and a thin tube drain excess cerebrospinal fluid from the brain. NPH worsens over three to six months and prevails in people after their 60s. The symptoms are similar to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Due to this, the condition mostly gets misdiagnosed. But the good news is that, unlike Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, Normal pressure hydrocephalus is reversible in many people with appropriate treatment.
9. Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome
Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is a brain disorder due to a lack of thiamine(vitamin B1), essential for your body to convert food into energy. This syndrome is common in people with heavy alcohol consumption. The damage is to multiple nerves in the peripheral and central nervous systems. Symptoms include confusion, lack of coordination in voluntary movements, double vision, and further eye problems.
How To Get Dementia Diagnosed?
As you all know by now, correctly diagnosing dementia and its type is challenging. Get your loved ones to visit a doctor if this is a minor change in their behavior or daily life patterns. However, it is tricky to determine the exact type of dementia as the symptoms can overlap. The doctor can help the patient by conducting tests related to physical and mental health. He will ask about the medical as well as family history of the patient to know the root cause of the problem. Therefore, the doctor can be optimistic by conducting a few tests;
- Brain scans like MRI, CT scan, and PET scans
- Neurological evaluation
- Testing the cognitive skills
- Genetic tests
- Laboratory tests
These tests will probably rule out the cause of all the symptoms present in the patient, including the chemical and hormonal changes.
Treatment Of Dementia
First and foremost, if you or your family member have the symptoms of dementia, don’t lose hope. Accept the situation and get the best treatment. There is no permanent cure for dementia, but proper medications and a healthy lifestyle can improve this challenging journey. Above all, have a positive outlook(as hard as it is), eat healthily, get routine checkups and join support groups. You can also sign up for reminiscence therapy, cognitive stimulation therapy, and reality orientation therapy. Further, you can take help from healthcare homes or nursing homes, which are specialized in managing patients with AD or other types of dementia
Things To Know About Alzheimer’s
Dementia results from a group of symptoms, for instance, memory loss. However, Alzheimer’s is a dangerously progressive disease that results in loss of cognitive functions and slowly causes impairment in memory. Alzheimer’s disease leads to dementia over time and accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases. After that, when the symptoms become prominent, it leads to confusion, difficulty in speaking, swallowing and walking, and behavior changes between the nerve cells. An abnormal protein build-up around the brain cells results in Alzheimer’s disease. Amyloid deposits that form plaques are an unhealthy cluster of proteins that block communication between neurons. Similarly, Tau deposits which form tangles, are proteins that twist together and kill healthy brain cells.
Different Stages Of Alzheimer’s
The stages mentioned below give an overall picture of how the person and his abilities change once symptoms appear.
First Stage: Preclinical Or No Impairment
Alzheimer’s disease is a silent killer. The problem starts years before it shows symptoms. Importance of primary care, like visiting a doctor for screening to detect the disease at the earliest, for instance, PET scans. However, there will be no signs of symptoms at this stage.
Second Stage: Early (Mild)
At this stage, the person will start becoming aware of their condition. The symptoms may appear mild due to the age factor, but they should not be neglected. Symptoms are, for instance:
- Struggle to write the right word or name.
- Misplacing items like keys, wallets, and jewelry
- Difficulty in managing money
- The trouble with planning or organizing
- Recalling recent events
Third Stage: Mild Impairment (Decline)
People close to the person going through the changes will get suspicious in the third stage. Academic performance in people may decline. Symptoms, for instance, are:
- Lack of concentration
- Not recalling names of new people you meet or places you visit
- Asks the same question over and over
- Organizing and planning become more difficult
- Getting lost on familiar routes
- Unable to remember what you last read
Fourth Stage: Moderate Cognitive Decline
The problems at this stage last for about two years, making everyday tasks more demanding. Assistance is much needed, as Alzheimer’s is considerably evident in this stage. The symptoms, for instance, are:
- Inability to buy personal things
- Having trouble cooking
- Struggle to use the telephone
- Struggling while doing multiple tasks
- Trouble learning new things
- Problems with reading and writing
- Not able to handle own finances or bills
- The person can’t recall recent events
Fifth Stage: Moderately Severe Cognitive Decline
This stage lasts for about 1.5 years. At this time, people need a lot of support from their close family members. The patient will get confused doing many things that can lash out as irritation and anger. The symptoms at this time are
- The feeling of depression, anxiety, and frustration
- Unable to communicate verbally
- The person can start having delusions and hallucinations.
- Starting to get severe personality changes
- Insomnia or trouble sleeping
- Frequently wandering around and becoming lost
Sixth Stage: Moderately Severe Alzheimer’s.
The sixth stage lasts for approximately 2.5 years. When a person is living independently, they need to be aware of the surroundings.
The patient will need a caregiver to survive and complete daily tasks. The symptoms are, for instance:
- Help to take a bath or use the toilet.
- Confusing people with each other
- Not able to feed themselves
- Help in getting dressed every day
- Increasing urinary problems
- Not able to recall critical current or past events
- Speech problems
Seventh Stage: Severe Alzheimer’s
The patient at the last stage needs twenty-four hours of extensive care. This stage lasts for one year. Physical movements become painful and rigid. The patient will lose all their physical and mental ability at this point. The symptoms, for instance, are
- Tightness in joints like the elbow and knee
- Loss of physical skills like sitting, walking, eating, and swallowing
- Severe speech issues, limited to few words
- Stiffness in facial muscles
- Get infections, especially pneumonia
- Severe symptoms of anxiety, hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia.
How To Get Alzheimer’s Diagnosed?
The earlier Alzheimer’s gets diagnosed, the higher chances of the person having a good quality of life and mortality rate. In the start, the symptoms are subtle, so it is hard to identify by a person who doesn’t know about AD. See a respected doctor immediately if someone close to you or even you is having trouble physically or mentally. Problems in conducting daily tasks, memory loss, lacking verbal or thinking skills, etc., are the early symptoms of AD. Moreover, the health adviser will perform a few physical and neurological exams.
After that, these exams will identify your mental ability and see how your brain responds to the questions. The doctor will do brain scans like CT, MRI, or PET scans. Moreover, the patient has to share all the previous medical history. In addition, the health adviser will order blood, urine, and multiple tests to reach the diagnosis of AD.
Treatment Of Alzheimer’s Disease
There is no cure for AD, but researchers continue searching for effective treatments and a cure for AD. As of now, proper medication is the only answer to this disease. In the later stages of AD, patients take memantine which subsides the effects of glutamate, which can improve memory and minimize the symptoms. Moreover, you can take cognitive stimulation therapy (CST) in groups to improve your mental skills. Similarly, cognitive rehab led by an occupational therapist will automatically help the patient stimulate the brain’s non-active part.
So, now, as a reader of this blog, you must be clear about the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia. In conclusion, the journey of a person with Alzheimer’s or any other type of dementia is challenging.
However, few types of dementia can be eradicated or managed if diagnosed at an early stage. Moreover, the support of family members and an entire treatment plan will boost a better lifestyle. Here at Alincor consulting, you can take the help of our trained experts at any time to guide you and to put an alarm on you to recover as soon as possibl. Contact us via phone or email and join our video sessions, as we can give you quick assistance. We will be there for you at every step of recovery, holding your hands with comfort and support. Feel free to mail us at: email@example.com, or you can directly call us at +1 833-211-1777 or +1 833-256-4267.