7 Differences You Should Know About Alzheimer’s & Dementia

Research by the Alzheimer’s Association shows that up to 5.8 million U.S. citizens suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and Singapore’s dementia statistics show people who are above the age of 65 are at risk of Alzheimer’s or vascular dementia.

Often, people confuse Alzheimer’s and dementia with memory problems that occur as a normal part of aging. However, these are complex brain disorders that result in memory loss, reasoning difficulties, and language loss.

Although a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other brain diseases can be upsetting, experts believe that they aren’t hopeless diseases. Understanding how each disease progresses, along with its causes and symptoms, can help combat the disorder:

Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s: An Overview

The terms’ Alzheimer’s’ and ‘Dementia’ are often used interchangeably; however, you must understand the differences between the two:

A Quick Glance at Dementia

Dementia is not one specific disease. Instead, it is an umbrella term describing various illnesses caused by physical disorders. It affects memory and your brain’s functioning, thereby disrupting your daily life.

A Quick Glance at Alzheimer’s 

One of the most common types of dementia, Alzheimer’s, causes progressive damage to brain cells. It results in a decline in memory and poor judgment.

1. Facts About Dementia vs. Alzheimer

The onset of Alzheimer’s disease starts twenty years after the first symptom appears. Here are a few must-know facts about Alzheimer:

  • Alzheimer’s is a progressive brain disorder in beta-amyloid, i.e., a toxic protein in your brain starts accumulating. As a result, it disrupts the functioning of another protein that’s essential for brain function      
  • Peer-reviewed studies reveal that damaged tau causes the death of affected neurons and spreads to other parts. The affected areas of the brain determine the kinds of symptoms you’ll experience. 

According to the website service Alzheimer’s Association, up to two-thirds of patients with Alzheimer’s are women. 

Dementia is a group of progressive disorders that interferes with your memory, ability to think, make decisions, and even control your emotions. Here are some quick facts about dementia:

  • People can have multiple types of dementia, known as mixed dementia. The correct diagnosis of mixed dementia can only be made through an autopsy 
  • As dementia develops, it can impair your ability to function independently  

According to the World Health Organization, up to 47.5 million people in the world have dementia.

2. Alzheimer’s vs Dementia: What are the Causes

Alzheimer’s occurs due to the accumulation of beta-amyloid in your brain. The protein starts collecting in a particular part of your brain due to stressors, like diabetes, head trauma, or exposure to pollution.   

In addition, specific genes associated with Alzheimer’s increase the likelihood of developing this common type of dementia. Remember that age is a huge risk factor as well.

Dementia, on the other hand, occurs when specific cells are damaged. It means that various degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, frontotemporal lobar dementia, and so on cause you to develop dementia. 

Typically, dementia progresses as you age and may occur due to the following reasons:

  • Infections like HIV
  • Vascular diseases
  • Depression 
  • Chronic drug use
  • Stroke

3. Types of Alzheimer’s vs. Dementia

Alzheimer’s may be of two types:

  • Early Onset of Alzheimer’s Signs appear between the ages of 30 and mid 60
  • Late Onset of Alzheimer’s – Affects older adults above the age of 65

Although Alzheimer’s accounts for up to 70% of cases, it is not the only cause of dementia. Let’s discuss the various common form of dementia:

  • Vascular dementia 
  • Lewy body dementia 
  • Frontotemporal disease 
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Huntington’s disease 
  • Chronic traumatic encephalopathy 
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

Read our guide to understanding dementia in Singapore.

4. Symptoms of Dementia vs Alzheimer’s

Some symptoms of these two diseases overlap, such as:

  • Mild cognitive impairment 
  • Memory loss 
  • Communication impairment 
  • Overall health decline 

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s

These include:

  • Apathy 
  • Depression 
  • Impaired judgment 
  • Confusion 
  • Behavior changes
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Difficulty in carrying out daily life tasks like swallowing, walking, and speaking 
  • Disorientation 
  • Difficulty remembering recent events   

Other dementias like Lewy body or vascular dementia may share several of the signs mentioned above. 

Symptoms of Dementia 

The type of dementia you have essentially defines the signs you’ll experience. Here, we discuss other symptoms and signs of this disorder: 

  • Confusion 
  • Forgetfulness 
  • Difficulty keeping track of time 
  • Repetitious questions
  • Inadequate hygiene 
  • Impaired decision-making skills 
  • Difficulty recalling names and faces

5. Treatment for Dementia and Alzheimer’s

Treatment for dementia depends on the exact cause, type, and symptoms of the disease. However, some treatments for the two disorders overlap.

Treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease

Brain changes caused by Alzheimer’s disease are incurable. However, various academic research institutions reveal that you can manage the disorder in the following ways:

  • Behavior modifying medicines like antipsychotics 
  • Using cholinesterase inhibitors 
  • Medication for memory loss
  • Remedies to boost brain function like coconut oil and fish oil
  • Medication for sleep changes 

Treatment for Dementia 

In most cases, treating the underlying cause can help cure many forms of dementia. Typically, the following treatment plans are available for this specific disease:

  • Cholinesterase inhibitors
  • Memantine 
  • Drugs for depression, sleeping problems, and hallucinations

6. Outlook for Dementia and Alzheimer Patient 

The outlook for people experiencing symptoms of this disease depends on the direct cause. Various treatment plans alleviate dementia’s signs and symptoms; however, there is no way to slow down most progressive disorders. 

Remember that some dementias are reversible, so it’s best to seek an early diagnosis and curate a treatment plan with your doctor.

Alzheimer’s is a terminal illness, so there is currently no cure for this disease. The average lifespan of a person with Alzheimer’s is approximately four to eight years after diagnosis. 

7. Risk Factors for Dementia and Alzheimer’s

Insightful Alzheimer’s research reveals that innumerable factors beyond genetics cause the development, course, and symptoms of this condition. Thus, you may be at risk of Alzheimer’s if you have: 

  • Cognitive decline 
  • Vascular conditions, like high blood pressure, stroke, or heart disease 
  • Metabolic disorders like diabetes or obesity 

However, keep in mind that the Alzheimer’s Association believes that old age is the most common risk factor for Alzheimer’s.

Risk factors for dementia include medical lifestyle, environmental factors, and family history. You may be at risk of this progressive disorder if:

  • Specific genes responsible for causing Alzheimer’s disease, mixed dementia, or any other form of dementia are passed down
  • You have a smaller cognitive reserve or Vascular conditions such as stroke or high blood pressure
  • You have a weak immune system or twisted blood vessels

Which is Worse Dementia or Alzheimer’s?

Differentiating between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia does not mean that one is worse than the other. A person having Alzheimer’s disease suffers from dementia and Alzheimer’s.

It is impossible to compare the severity of Alzheimer’s to other forms of dementia as it is a degenerative condition.

Can You Have Dementia without Alzheimer’s?

Dementia refers to the impairment of cognitive functioning, including thinking, remembering, and reasoning. 

Although Alzheimer’s disease is the most well-known type of dementia, not everyone with dementia suffers from it.

Is Dementia a form of Alzheimer’s? 

Contrary to popular belief, dementia is not a form of Alzheimer’s. Rather, Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative disorder and a common type of dementia. 

The Bottom Line  

According to research by Alzheimer’s Association, up to 200,000 U.S. adults under the age of 65 have early-onset of Alzheimer’s. Another insightful study by Alzheimer’s Association reveals that more than 50 million people worldwide are living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

Identifying dementia and Alzheimer’s disease at the right time can help manage symptoms and signs before they worsen. Patients suffering from such progressive diseases require 24/7 care and management. 

Here at Home Instead, we offer patients Dementia and Alzheimer’s care in Singapore. We employ a proven and effective relationship-centered approach to ensure that your loved one stays safe, healthy, and calm at home. 

In addition, our dedicated professionals create nutritious meals, encourage social interaction, offers mind-stimulating activities, and minimize behavior and cognitive symptoms.

Venture onto our website and give us a call to start walking down a healthier road.