Update on Coronavirus / COVID-19 and senior safety, click here for more information.

How Are Alzheimer’s & Dementia Different?

By , 9:00 am on

Even though Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are often used interchangeably, they are quite different. Understanding the differences between these two conditions can help seniors and their caregivers come up with long-term treatment plans to minimize the symptoms and slow the rate of cognitive decline.

Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Bethlehem Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.

Here is a closer look at what causes each of these conditions and how you can reduce your loved one’s risk of developing a dementia-related disorder. 

Dementia: A Syndrome or a Disease?

Many people refer to dementia as a disease, but it is classified as a syndrome in the medical community. This means it is a group of unique symptoms without a definitive diagnosis. These symptoms are so varied and confusing that some seniors are diagnosed with multiple forms of dementia at the same time. Even though dementia can produce many physical symptoms, it is generally characterized by cognitive and emotional difficulties. 

A Look at Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, which is one of the reasons many people mistakenly use these terms interchangeably. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disorder that results in specific cognitive impairments. Many people are surprised to hear Alzheimer’s can begin damaging an individual’s brain years before he or she notices any issues with memories or emotions. This disease is caused by webs of proteins that choke and kill brain cells. 

The Symptoms Are Similar

Seniors who have different dementia-related disorders may have nearly identical symptoms, and a medical specialist must closely follow a senior for quite some time before making a diagnosis. The most common symptoms include general confusion, short-term memory loss, long-term memory loss, agitation, apathy, and difficulty speaking. Certain types of dementia that damage other areas of the brain can produce a variety of physical symptoms like twitching and balance issues. Even though doctors can make an accurate diagnosis around 90 percent of the time, the brain must be examined under a microscope to confirm the diagnosis. 

Treatments for Dementia-Related Disorders

Treating the symptoms of Alzheimer’s almost always requires a blend of lifestyle changes, procedures, and prescription medications. Antipsychotics and cholinesterase inhibitors have become popular treatments over the last few years, but they can’t delay the symptoms forever. Many seniors benefit from mentally stimulating activities such as doing puzzles and socializing with friends. Limited studies have also revealed that exercising can boost brain function and slow the rate of cognitive decline. In rare cases, dementia-related disorders can be treated by removing tumors from the brain. 

Dementia can be challenging for seniors to manage, but they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional dementia care. Bethlehem seniors can benefit greatly from the Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program designed to slow cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia. CTM is included at no additional charge with any of the in-home care plans provided by Home Care Assistance.

How to Reduce Your Loved One’s Risk

Seniors who have a family history of Alzheimer’s or another dementia-related disorder should do everything in their power to stay physically and mentally healthy. This includes challenging their cognitive abilities as often as possible to prevent brain atrophy. A healthy diet filled with antioxidants can also enhance brain function and prevent additional damage from free radicals. Over the last few years, doctors have discovered that restorative sleep plays a major role in preventing these conditions as well.

The days, weeks, and months following an Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be challenging for both seniors and their families. However, these challenges can be made less stressful with the help of caregivers trained in professional Alzheimer’s care. Bethlehem, PA, Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one enjoy the golden years while simultaneously managing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. To learn about our revolutionary Alzheimer’s and dementia care, call a qualified Care Manager today at 484-350-3874.