There is often some confusion surrounding the differences between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, especially when the terms are used interchangeably in conversation. Let’s discuss a few basic details in order to make them easier to understand.

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What is Dementia?

Dementia itself is not a disease, but instead a general term for a group of symptoms (caused by damage of certain brain cells) that significantly affect memory, emotions, thinking, communication, and behavior beyond the typical effects of aging. There are many different types and causes of dementia, and it is possible to experience more than one type at a time—which is known as mixed dementia. Dementia often severely interferes with and inhibits an individual’s everyday routine to the point of needing assistance from a family member or caregiver.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia and attributes to approximately 60-80% of all cases. Alzheimer’s disease is known for its progressively-worsening symptoms such as memory loss, confusion, disorientation, changes in behavior or personality, and impaired judgment. At this point in time, there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s.

As the most common and well-known type of dementia, it can be easy to conflate the two terms—however, while all Alzheimer’s cases are considered to be dementia, not all cases of dementia are Alzheimer’s disease. Other types of dementia include vascular dementia, Parkinson’s disease dementia, Lewy body dementia, and frontotemporal dementia.

For More Information

If you or a loved one has been exhibiting symptoms of Alzheimer’s or dementia, schedule a visit with a trusted medical professional. Caring for someone with dementia can come with a lot of uncertainty, but being informed about available resources and what to expect can help.

For more information about Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, visit the Alzheimer’s Association website.