Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are often used interchangeably. This leads to inaccurate thinking about both conditions which in turn, can lead to confusion when speaking with healthcare professionals about these disorders.
Dementia refers to a group of brain disorders that affect mental function. Usual areas affected are emotional control, memory, and decision making among others. Alzheimer’s is a specific type of dementia. Not all dementia cases are Alzheimer’s, but all Alzheimer’s cases are dementia.
Alzheimer’s happens when protein plaques build up in the brain and interfere with nerve signals. These plaques can even destroy nerve cells. With 60-80% of dementia cases being Alzheimer’s, it is the most common type of dementia. Common symptoms include memory loss, speech issues, and drastic mood changes. Currently, there is no cure for it.
Alzheimer’s is not the only form of dementia. Following is a list of other types of dementia:
- Vascular Dementia
- Lewy Body Dementia
- Mixed Dementia (often Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia)
- Parkinson’s Disease -approximately 1 in 5 will develop dementia, most commonly Lewy Body or Alzheimers
- Frontotemporal Dementia
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease
- Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus
- Huntington’s Disease – like Parkinson’s those with Huntington’s often develop dementia
- Wernick-Korsakoff Syndrom – severe deficiency of thiamine (vitamin B-1)
Speak to your doctor if you or a loved one is showing signs of dementia, some can be treated depending on the cause.