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Knowing the differences between Alzheimer's and dementia

September is World Alzheimer's Month

Every year, there is an opportunity to learn more about the most common type of dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are more than six million Americans 65 and older facing this disease today. 
 
This year’s theme of “Know Dementia, Know Alzheimer’s” is focused on diagnosis, the warning signs of dementia and more. For families facing this diagnosis, it can feel isolating and challenging. You’re not alone. Buckner Retirement Services offers support through memory care services and support opportunities at our six senior living communities.
 
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 855.931.5688 and find out about senior memory living care 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. 

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.

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

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:

  • 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

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?

While Alzheimer’s is a brain disorder, dementia classifies 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

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

Have you found yourself searching online to find out “What is Alzheimer’s?” or “What is dementia?” or to decipher your aging loved one’s cognitive symptoms?

Buckner Retirement Services offers specialized memory care for senior adults struggling with these conditions and signs of cognitive decline. You can learn more about Alzheimer’s vs. dementia by calling 855.931.5688 to speak to one of our professionals.

Find out more about the support Buckner Retirement Services offers you and your loved ones in this new season of life. 

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