What is Dementia?
Dementia is a general term that describes a number of symptoms, such as loss of memory, judgment, language, complex motor skills, and other intellectual functions, caused by the permanent damage or death of the brain’s nerve cells or neurons.
One or more different diseases, including Alzheimer’s, can cause dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia in persons over the age of 65. It represents about 60 to 80 percent of all forms of dementia. The other most common causes of dementia are vascular dementia, caused by stroke or blockage of blood supply, and dementia with Lewy bodies. Other types include alcohol dementia (caused by sustained use of alcohol), trauma dementia (caused by head injury), and a rare form of dementia, frontotemporal dementia.
The clinical symptoms and the progression of dementia vary, depending on the type of disease that causes it and the location and number of damaged brain cells. Some types progress slowly over the years, while others may result in a sudden loss of cognitive function.
Each type of dementia is characterized by different pathologic or structural changes in the brain, such as an accumulation of abnormal plaques and tangles in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and abnormal tau protein build-up in individuals with frontotemporal dementia.
What is the difference between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia?
Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are often confused with each other, however, they are not the same. Dementia is not a specific disease but a general term used to describe cognitive decline that interferes with the daily activities of an affected individual. Alzheimer’s, on the other hand, is the disease that is the most common cause of dementia.
It is essential to learn about these two terms and the differences between them since this necessary knowledge can be helpful for people living with Alzheimer’s or another kind of dementia, as well as their families, and caregivers.
WARNING SIGNS: DEMENTIA VS ALZHEIMER’S
Warning signs of Dementia
Dementia represents a group of symptoms that cause a decline in memory, reasoning, or other thinking skills. Several forms of dementia exist, and various conditions are responsible for it. Mixed dementia is one of the forms which can occur due to the simultaneous occurrence of brain changes resulting from due more than one type of dementia.
The symptoms of dementia vary, depending on the type of disease that causes it. If someone is exhibiting these symptoms, the person should discuss their concerns with a healthcare professional. Awareness of these warning signs is not a substitute for a structured screening or consultation with a primary care provider.
Warning signs include the following:
- Trouble with forming new memories
- Relying on memory helpers
- Trouble finding words
- Struggling to complete familiar actions
- Confusion about time, place, or people
- Misplacing familiar objects
- The onset of new depression or irritability
- Making bad decisions
- Personality changes
- Loss of interest in pivotal responsibilities
- Seeing or hearing things
- Expressing false beliefs
The 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s
Memory loss that disrupts everyday life is not a normal part of aging. It may be a sign of Alzheimer’s disease, a fatal degenerative brain disorder that worsens over time and causes changes in thinking, reasoning, and behavior. It occurs due to complex brain changes and leads to dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease generally affects the parts of the brain associated with learning first. Therefore, trouble remembering recently learned information is the most common early symptom of the disease. The symptoms worsen with its progression and include confusion, disorientation, and behavioral changes. At the late stage, the individual gradually loses the ability to speak, swallow, and walk.
Although the disease is more common in people 65 and older (late-onset AD), it can also affect those in their 30s, 40s, and 50s (early-onset AD).
The following 10 warning signs are common changes that might point to Alzheimer’s or another dementia. Early detection and early diagnosis are necessary because they provide the best opportunities for treatment, support, and planning for the future.
- Memory changes that disrupt daily life
- Challenges in planning or solving problems
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks
- Confusion with time or place
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
- New problems with words in speaking or writing
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
- Decreased or poor judgment
- Withdrawal from work or social activities
- Changes in mood and personality
Not all of these signs mean that a person has Alzheimer’s, but they do indicate the need to seek medical help.