Is There A Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease?

Updated 7/11/2018 8:22 AM

Senior Helpers Assists Seniors and Their Families Struggling with These Health Issues

Vicki Gerson

Experts in the medical field consider dementia not a specific disease. In reality, it is an overall term that describes a group of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills. Dementia can reduce a senior's ability to perform everyday activities.

Symptoms of dementia include memory loss, personality and mood changes, confusion and a decline in problem-solving skills. There are numerous conditions that can cause dementia. There are situations where side effects from the person's medication or other medical problems also can cause dementia-like symptoms.

" A person who suffers from dementia may or may not have Alzheimer's, but everyone who has Alzheimer's will suffer from dementia," said Director of Operations Steve Pearl, at Northbrook-based Senior Helpers serving the north and northwest suburbs to the Wisconsin border.

Defining Dementia

Just because many of us have memory lapses as we age doesn't mean we have dementia. Dementia is different because it affects our ability to do everyday tasks. For example, people with mild dementia frequently forgets where they put their keys, may even forget what the keys are for.

Many of the causes of dementia are reversible including vitamin B12 deficiency, medication interactions, malnutrition, infections and hormone or thyroid imbalances. Diabetes can also produce side effects that mimic dementia.

However, doctors know that Alzheimer's Disease is the most common form of dementia accounting for two-thirds of all cases. Still, there is vascular dementia and less common types such as Lewy body dementia and frontotemporal degeneration. All dementia is caused by the death of brain cells. "However, the cause of brain cell death (neuron) and/or its location in the brain define whether the dementia is Alzheimer's disease or another type," said Pearl. "Alzheimer's Disease starts in the part of the brain that stores memory and progresses through the brain at different rates."

It is important to see a doctor who may be able to catch a treatable condition early and protect your brain from harm. Regardless of the type of dementia you have, there are other options to consider. Research has determined that lifestyle changes such as exercise can slow the effects of dementia.

If you would like to learn more about how Senior Helpers In-home Caregivers can help you or a loved one-from a few hours a day to 24-hour care, please contact Steve Pearl at Senior Helpers: 847-564-7500 or email him at

This Senior Helpers office is the Alzheimer's Foundation of America Cares Affiliate office for all of Chicagoland. For the past five years, this office has been ranked as one of the Top Home Care Agencies in America.

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