Senior dementia

The Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimer’s

by asecondme on March 27, 2019

Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s

Too often people use the terms Dementia and Alzheimer’s interchangeably, when in fact they are different. According to an article in Healthline called, “Dementia and Alzheimer’s: What Are the Differences?,” “Dementia is an overall term used to describe symptoms that impact memory, performance of daily activities, and communication abilities. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease gets worse with time and affects memory, language, and thought.”

Furthermore, the symptoms of both conditions may overlap, that is why it’s important to be able to distinguish the difference between the two in order to manage and treat each condition appropriately.


Dementia is a syndrome, not a disease. Also, it doesn’t have a definitive diagnosis. Hence, the reason it’s considered an “umbrella term.” As a result, there are many different symptoms that affect mental cognitive tasks such as memory and reasoning, and Alzheimer’s falls under that umbrella.

The following is a list of different types of Dementia that people are diagnosed with:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
  • Dementia with Lewy bodies
  • Frontotemporal dementia
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Mixed dementia
  • Normal pressure hydrocephalus
  • Vascular dementia
  • Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome

You can find out more about each of these diseases by reading this article What is dementia (neurocognitive disorder), by Rachel Nall.  

Most certainly, dementia can impact the way a person functions autonomously, and this only worsens as the symptoms advance.

Symptoms of Dementia

From having trouble with keeping track of time, to forgetting simple tasks, as well as forgetting where they are; it’s still easy to overlook these symptoms. However, as dementia advances, these symptoms will continue to grow and soon it becomes hard to recall the names of people, or remember even how to do the basic daily activities such as cooking, cleaning, bathing, etc. Also, the decline in the ability to think, along with memory and communication impairment can overlap with Alzheimer’s, and can be hard for some people to differentiate early on.

Alzheimer’s and the Different Signs

Alzheimer’s is a brain disease, a neurological disorder that causes the deterioration of brain cells. This eventually leads to memory loss and cognitive decline.

In an article written by Darwin Malecdim, called “Alzheimer’s Symptoms: 7 Warning Signs Of Progressive Brain Disorder,” he list the following signs to look for in identifying of Alzheimer’s.

1. Confusion with time

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, people developing the disease may struggle to understand events and when they happen. It may become difficult for them to know the day of the week and lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. 

2. Memory loss

It is the most common sign of Alzheimer’s disease. In the condition’s early stage, an individual tends to forget recently learned information, such as names, dates and appointments. They may ask for the same information over and over again. 

3. Losing problem-solving skills

There would be changes in one’s ability to concentrate. Patients may take longer time to assess and do things. Some people may also find it difficult to create and follow a plan.

4. Difficulty completing tasks

The effects of Alzheimer’s disease could lead to challenges in completing daily tasks. Common concerns of patients include difficulty in traveling to previously familiar places, managing a budget or remembering the rules of a favorite game.

5. Mood changes

People with the disease commonly show sudden changes in mood as well as personalities. They may become suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. Mood changes also make them easily upset, which could lead to social withdrawal. 

6. Trouble understanding visual images

Vision problems is also a common sign of Alzheimer’s. A person may find it hard to read, judge distance and identify color or contrast.

7. Trouble following or joining a conversation 

People with Alzheimer’s may appear confused in the middle of a conversation as they commonly lose the idea how to continue. They may also struggle with vocabulary, or to find the right word.

Seeking Help

It’s important to seek help from a medical professional if you think you are experiencing early signs of Dementia or Alzheimer’s.  If you are a caregiver, and your loved one has been diagnosed or you think might have Dementia or Alzheimer’s, then it’s important to help them get the treatment they need. Just remember you are not alone. You can contact your local Area Agency for Aging to get more information and resources that will help you and your loved one through this journey.

For additional information and related articles, click on the links below.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s: What Are the Differences?

Alzheimer’s Symptoms: 7 Warning Signs Of Progressive Brain Disorder

What is dementia (neurocognitive disorder)

Alzheimer’s Association: What is Alzheimer’s?

What’s to know about Alzheimer’s disease?

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