Although the terms are frequently related, dementia and Alzheimer’s are not the same. Dementia is an overarching term used to describe symptoms that impact a person’s memory, the performance of daily activities, and ability to communicate. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. As time goes on, Alzheimer’s becomes more serious and alters memory, language, and thought.
Dementia describes a set of symptoms associated with a decline in memory, reasoning, and other cognitive skills. There are many different types of dementia and conditions that can cause it. Mixed dementia is a condition where various types of dementia are occurring simultaneously. Accounting for 60-80% of dementia cases, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia.
A lot of health changes occur during the aging process, but dementia does not occur as a natural result of old age. It is caused by damage to brain cells which has a significant impact on a person’s ability to communicate, think, behave, and feel normally.
Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease that is caused by changes in the brain. Caused by cell damage, it eventually leads to severe dementia symptoms. The most common symptom of Alzheimer’s is having a difficult time processing and remembering new information. The disease attacks the part of the brain associated with learning first.
Once Alzheimer’s advances, symptoms become more intolerable and can include disorientation, confusion, and behavior changes. As it gets worse, speaking, swallowing, and walking can also become difficult to do without assistance. Alzheimer’s disease cannot be prevented, cured, or slowed down.
While most older adults are at risk for getting Alzheimer’s, the disease is not a natural part of the aging process. Approximately 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 have early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, even though most people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older.
The future for those with dementia depends entirely on the direct cause. For instance, there are treatments available to manage symptoms of dementia caused by Parkinson’s disease. There are some types of dementia that are reversible, but most are not and will cause significant impairment over time.
Alzheimer’s is terminal and there is not a cure currently available. Usually, the average person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s has an estimated lifespan of about four to eight years. However, some people can live with the disease for up to 20 years.
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