Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are often used interchangeably but there is a stark distinction between the two. Dementia is a syndrome i.e., a set of symptoms and not a disease per se. It is an umbrella term used to describe signs pertaining to impaired thinking and memory. On the other hand, Alzheimer’s disease is one of the primary causes of Dementia. It is essentially the degeneration of brain cells and tissue which occurs over time. It is characterised by memory loss, personality changes, deterioration of speech and other physical functions, etc.
Firstly, when an individual is diagnosed with Dementia, they are diagnosed based on their symptoms without actually knowing the specific cause behind the symptoms immediately. In Alzheimer’s disease, the exact cause of the symptom is understood. Certain symptoms of both these conditions may be similar such as a decline in one’s ability to think, difficulty in communication etc. But in the later, more advanced stages, behavioural changes in Alzheimer’s intensify.
Secondly, a major difference between Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is that the latter is not a reversible disease. It is degenerative and incurable presently. Whereas some forms of Dementia such as drug interaction or a nutritional deficiency may be cured, thereby reversed.
Thirdly, both these conditions, although similar in nature, are treated differently. Doctors use an array of screenings to determine the cause of the conditions. These include blood tests, mental status evaluations, neuropsychological testing and brain scans. Once the exact cause and type of Dementia is identified, the right course of treatment is undertaken. On the other hand, there is currently no definite cure for Alzheimer’s disease but there are several options used to manage its symptoms which include –
- Medications for depression, sleep disorders, memory loss etc.
- Therapeutic care treatments which aim at inducing stability and calmness
- Dietary/Nutritional supplements
For both of these conditions, the best treatment approach is engaging communication, will power, patience and love. While the differences between Dementia and Alzheimer’s may be clear to those affected by either, or their families, but the vast majorities still fail to clearly distinguish between the two. A further improved understanding of the two will not only make people more aware but also help them steer clear of confusion, frame better treatment procedures for both, and ultimately find an effective cure.
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