Alzheimer’s vs. Dementia: What’s The Difference?

A senior man and his granddaughter sharing earbuds, listening to musicAlzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. Dementia is not a single disease, but a non-specific illness syndrome, or a set of signs and symptoms. Dementia refers to a decline in cognitive function (such as a loss of thinking, remembering, and reasoning skills), to the extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. The term dementia is intended to describe the spectrum of severity, ranging from the mildest to the most severe stages—regardless of the cause.

According to studies, African Americans have a greater risk of Alzheimer’s than whites if another family member has suffered from it.

What Causes Dementia?

The most common causes are Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. However, there are many causes of dementia. Some forms are due to degeneration of neurons, while others are due to disturbances in other body systems that result in neuronal dysfunction.

Neurodegenerative means that neurons (which are brain cells) gradually degenerate (cease to function or function inappropriately, and, eventually die). This death of brain cells impairs the neuron-to-neuron connections, called synapses—which is where and how messages are passed along in your brain). This “disconnect” can results in a range of dysfunction.

Dementia Symptoms