Imagine struggling to remember your loved ones, the places you’ve been or even your own name. The haunting reality of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is a terrifying prospect for many individuals and their families.
Alzheimer’s disease, a type of dementia, gradually erodes memory, thinking and behavior, reaching a point where it hinders the simplest daily tasks. However, dementia is a broader term encompassing conditions characterized by significant memory loss and cognitive decline, which profoundly impact daily life. In this article, experts will explore the differences between Alzheimer’s and dementia, shedding light on these complex neurological disorders that affect millions worldwide.
What is Alzheimer’s?
“There are several different forms of dementia,” Dr. Andrew Segovia Kulik, chair of the behavioral health department at Saint Anthony Hospital in Chicago, told HealthDay. “Alzheimer’s, vascular, Lewy body, etc., are all forms, but the most common form accounting for 70 percent of all dementias is the Alzheimer’s type.”
Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, is a specific type of dementia that primarily targets memory, thinking and behavior. As the condition progresses, its symptoms intensify, ultimately interfering with an individual’s ability to carry out daily tasks.
However, it is crucial to dispel a common misconception that Alzheimer’s is typical with aging. While advancing age is the most significant known risk factor, with most cases occurring in individuals aged 65 and older, it can also affect younger individuals, known as early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Other types of dementia
Vascular dementia is a result of a blockage of blood flow to your brain. It is often related to strokes or the buildup of plaque in your arteries. Symptoms can vary widely and may onset slowly or suddenly.
Dementia with Lewy bodies
Dementia with Lewy bodies is a progressive disease. It is caused by deposits of protein in your nerves that disrupt electrical signals. With this form of dementia, you may experience changes in thinking, confusion, and changes in movement patterns.
Parkinson’s disease dementia
This form of dementia typically develops in people with Parkinson’s a year or more after they were first diagnosed. It causes a decline in cognitive ability.
Frontotemporal dementia is a group of conditions characterized by loss of brain function in the part of your brain near your forehead or behind your ears. Behavioral changes are often the first symptom of frontotemporal dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association notes.
Posterior cortical atrophy
Posterior cortical atrophy causes a progressive deterioration of the outer layer of your brain (the cortex) in the posterior part of your brain. Symptoms typically include problems with visual tasks such as reading or perceiving moving objects, however they can vary.
Only affecting about 350 people in the United States each year, this is a rare infectious disease, according to Healthline. It causes