Alzheimer’s vs Dementia. What is the difference? For a lot of people in the healthcare industry, answering this would be very simple. It wouldn’t be asked at all even. However, not everyone in the general public knows this. There would be times that both terminologies get interchanged quite often. That’s why we at Healthcare Channel asked the experts to weigh in their thoughts. A challenge to give the easiest definition they can provide.
Damage to the nerve cells in various parts of the brain commonly occur years before Alzheimer’s symptoms begin to appear. Alzheimer’s clinicians have broken the disease into two models, the first consisting of seven distinct stages, although many of those stages in fact depict only changes in the severity of the decline. Using the second model, the Alzheimer’s Association simplifies the process by enumerating only three stages to Alzheimer’s, namely mild, moderate and severe.
Mild Alzheimer’s Disease is not to be mistaken for “early onset Alzheimer’s”, a term used to categorize people who acquire the disease before age 65, i.e. years before Alzheimer’s impacts the majority of people. With mild Alzheimer’s disease, the initial memory loss that occurs is of the type that relates to most recent events and people.
Patients with mild Alzheimer’s disease still function with considerable independence, although they start “misplacing” their keys or eyeglasses, and they start getting stuck with words and names in their communications.
In this phase of the disease, the earlier symptoms experienced in the mild stage are amplified and become more of a hindrance in the performing of everyday tasks. A further decline in memory, speech, logic, problem-solving and other cognitive factors means that patients in the moderate stage of Alzheimer’s begin to need an increasing amount of help at every level.
Challenges to the caregivers of patients with Severe Alzheimer’s Disease reach a high point in which total care is required. Severe symptoms include acute muscle weakness, weight loss, appetite suppression, and an inability to swallow.
In this severe stage, Alzheimer’s patients may no longer be able to walk, sit up, or hold their head up. Eventually, the ability to swallow, to control bladder and bowel functions, and an increased susceptibility to infections such as urinary tract infections and pneumonia take over.
In the early stages, many people with dementia can still function independently, including holding jobs, driving, and remaining socially active. Difficulties begin to arise when it comes to balancing a household budget, planning and organizing tasks, and managing medications. Early signs may appear such as misplacing the checkbook, forgetting names, or going into the kitchen to get something and not remembering what that was.
The middle stages require an incrementally greater level of care and support. In those stages, repetitive behaviors start setting in, communication becomes all the more difficult, and although patients may still be able to live independently, they require more assistance with their activities of daily living. People with mid-stage dementia often also experience increased memory loss, and sleep pattern disturbances such as sleeping during the day and restlessness at night.
The late stages may last for several years or for just a few months, depending mostly on the individual’s physical conditioning, genes, and various other lifestyle factors. Late-stage dementia is marked by behaviors that are out of character, such as increased agitation, continual questioning, pacing, and unusual sleep patterns. People with dementia also eventually lose their ability to communicate, and they become increasingly incontinent and non-ambulatory. (from: https://www.kindlycare.com/dementia-vs-alzheimers/)
I hope you find this post helpful. Which definition is your favorite? Or you can add your own in the comments section too!
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