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Alzheimer’s vs. Dementia

a doctor looks at brain images on a computer lookg for distinctions between alzheimer's vs dementia

Is your parent or loved one showing concerning cognitive issues? Memory loss and difficulty speaking could be symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Learn more about Alzheimer’s vs. dementia by calling 214.227.7182 and find out about senior memory care services at Buckner Retirement Services.

Alzheimer’s vs. Dementia

While the signs and symptoms of these two conditions may overlap, some distinct differences exist between Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Learn more about each of these cognitive concerns below.

What Is Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder that gradually progresses over time. It is one of the most common conditions affecting senior adults, with more than three million cases per year in the United States alone.

Early Stages

People with Alzheimer’s disease exhibit various mental, physical, and behavioral symptoms. These symptoms will usually occur in stages, increasing in severity and frequency as the condition progresses. In its earliest stages, Alzheimer’s can present the following symptoms:

  • Memory loss
  • Misplacing or losing items
  • Forgetting the names of people, places, or things
  • Repeating oneself or asking the same questions consistently
  • Getting lost in familiar locations

These early signs may be subtle and easily dismissed as normal age-related changes. However, if they are persistent and increasingly disruptive to daily life, it is essential to seek medical attention.

Progressive Symptoms

As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, more severe and ongoing symptoms will start to appear. In the middle to late stages of the disease, behavioral and physical symptoms will become more apparent. Progressing Alzheimer’s symptoms can include the following:

  • Increased confusion and disorientation
  • Difficulty sleeping or changes in sleeping habits
  • Obsessive and repetitive behaviors
  • Compulsive or insistent behaviors
  • Difficulty speaking or slurred speech
  • Delusions or hallucinations
  • Inability to judge distance or perform spatial tasks
  • Frequent mood swings or changes in personality

Trying to care for someone with advancing Alzheimer’s can be incredibly challenging, especially without the proper support and resources. That is why seeking professional memory living care may be the best option for seniors living with this disease.

End Stage Alzheimer’s

When Alzheimer’s reaches its end stages, it can present dire symptoms that affect the quality of life and ability to survive. At this stage, senior adults typically require ongoing medical care. Symptoms can include the ones below:

  • Significant weight loss
  • Inability to move without assistance
  • Loss of speech
  • Severely impaired short- and long-term memory
  • Malnutrition and dehydration

Certain things can help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, such as recreational activities and mental stimulation. With that being said, there is no cure. The condition will ultimately progress until the quality of life cannot be sustained.

What Is Dementia?

There are several differences when comparing Alzheimer’s vs. dementia. While Alzheimer’s is a specific condition, dementia is classified as a group of symptoms that affect neurological and cognitive abilities.

Alzheimer’s is a specific neurocognitive disease, while dementia is a general term that refers to a range of cognitive issues. In other words, Alzheimer’s is one form of dementia. However, dementia can have many causes; for example, it may be present in adults with brain tumors or those who have suffered a stroke.

  • Dementia can present with the following symptoms:
  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty communicating or finding the right words
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Inability to organize or problem-solve
  • Difficulty with coordination and motor functions
  • Reduced visual perception
  • Inability to identify people or objects
  • Decreased sense of smell

Just like caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, looking after a loved one with dementia can be challenging. That is why many families turn to memory living care services for support.

Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s Symptoms

Something that is not unique to Alzheimer’s is the dire effect it has on a senior’s mood and personality. Other types of dementia can have the same impact. These cognitive issues as a whole can eventually lead to the following psychological and behavioral symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Agitation
  • Mood swings

In addition to Alzheimer’s, other common types of dementia include vascular dementia and Lewy body dementia. Nearly all types of dementia share one significant feature—they inevitably progress over time.

Treatments like cognitive exercises may help slow this progression, but dementia symptoms generally increase in frequency and intensity until they severely impact an adult’s quality of life.

Senior Memory Care at Buckner Retirement Services

You don’t have to know the specific differences between Alzheimer’s vs. dementia to understand that caring for your loved one might not be something you can do effectively. Don’t worry—help is available.

Buckner Retirement Services offers specialized memory care for senior adults struggling with these conditions and signs of cognitive decline. Our life care communities help seniors stay in one place as their needs change over time. Call 214.227.7182 or contact us online to get started or find help for a loved one at one of our Texas faith-based communities.