Have questions concerning Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other memory issues? We have answers.
As part of our array of programs and services for local families affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia, Alzheimer’s Orange County offers a free telephone helpline to answer any questions you may have about the disease. Whether you are someone experiencing dementia or other memory problems, a caregiver, or simply have questions about the disease, our experts are here to provide you with the information, resources, and advice that you need.
Our very own Helpline Specialists join us on our blog series to answer the most frequently asked questions that they encounter from caregivers and their loved ones, as well as their solutions to common issues and difficulties you may be experiencing.
This week’s question:
What is the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia?
Dementia is a major neurocognitive disorder that is characterized by the loss of cognitive functioning, such as thinking, remembering, reasoning, and behavior. These areas are affected to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life.
There is a common misconception when it comes to dementia and Alzheimer’s, as people often assume they are the same thing. It helps to think of dementia as an umbrella term, and Alzheimer’s as a category; dementia is not actually a specific disease, but an overarching term that describes a group of progressive symptoms that affect the brain’s ability to think, remember, and perform other regular functions.
There are over 60 different causes and types of dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease is only one of them – however, it is by far the most common, making up between 60 and 80 percent of all dementia cases. Alzheimer’s is characterized by slow, progressive cell death that spreads throughout the brain and causes memory loss, confusion, and mood changes. Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s,only methods of reducing risk and treating symptoms.
This leads us to the next big thing to know, which is that there are two basic types of dementia: potentially reversible (not common) and non-reversible (most common). Most types of dementia that are non-reversible and progressive, such as Alzheimer’s disease. However, there are forms of dementia that can be reversed through treating the root cause, for example, like poor nutrition, infections, or thyroid deficiency.
Because there are so many potential causes and treatments for dementia, it is important that you or your loved one see a medical professional if certain symptoms arise, such as:
- Issues with memory and recall ability
- Reduced ability to find words and communicate ideas
- Issues surrounding mood or behavior
- Problems with cognition (e.g. lost sense of time and place, disorientation in familiar areas)
To recap, not all cases of dementia mean Alzheimer’s – in fact, not all symptoms mean dementia, but could simply be part of aging! If you or your loved one’s daily lives are disrupted by any of the symptoms above, or any other symptoms you believe to be outside of the normal aging process, do not hesitate to see a physician. It is helpful to get a correct and early diagnosis, because there are many resources available to help individuals prepare for what is ahead, and to live well with their memory loss. For further information on the services that Alzheimer’s Orange County can offer to you and your loved ones, visit https://www.alzoc.org/services/.
Have a question about Alzheimer’s & dementia, but don’t see it here? Be sure to contact Alzheimer’s Orange County’s Helpline at 844-HELP-ALZ (844-435-7259) and we will help. To see the other programs and resources that Alzheimer’s Orange County can offer to you and your loved ones, visit our website at https://www.alzoc.org/.