Many people use these two words interchangeably while they are not the same thing. Dementia is a broad term that describes general decline of several symptoms. Alzheimer's is a diagnosis indicating a worsening condition that is ongoing and progressive. Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia. Strokes or traumatic brain injuries can also cause forms of dementia. Lewy Body Disease and Huntington's are other forms of dementia. You can think of dementia as an umbrella which Alzheimer's Disease, Lewy Body Dementia, and Huntington's fall under. Over time, those with Alzheimer's worsen until the individual is no longer responsive to their environment. This is one of the leading causes of death in the United States.
Both of these titles look similar in the beginning to loved ones on the outside and it may become frustrating to try and cope while waiting to see what the future looks like. With Alzheimer's, nerve cell death begins to take place which shrinks brain tissue. This in return, affects function capabilities.
In Early (Mild) Alzheimer's, problems with memory on newly-learned information, planning, and misplacing items are common. The Middle (Moderate) stage, is usually the longest. Moderate stage individuals may begin to confuse words, act "not like themselves", or become disoriented. This is extremely frustrating for them as well. During Late stage (Severe) Alzheimer's, the individual loses abilities of function and may require 24-hour care.
These stages may overlap and every journey is different.
There are agencies and caregiver support groups that help and educate. The biggest reason I am blogging about this is because I run into fellow community members that do not actually understand what they are dealing with. When dealing with health topics and attempting to get assistance, agencies need to know if they are dealing with dementia or Alzheimer's as the long-term planning will differ. Hope this was helpful. As always, feel free to call with any questions. Brandie Garlitz, Community/Senior Health Care Blogger 591-0527