Dementia vs. Alzheimer's Disease

What is the difference between Dementia & Alzheimer's Disease?

Dementia is an umbrella term for a set of symptoms including impaired thinking and memory.

It is a term that is associated with the cognitive decline of aging.  According to the National Institute of Health Senior Life, Dementia is a loss of thinking, remembering, and reasoning skills that interfere with a person’s daily life and activities.  Early signs of dementia may include simple forgetfulness, losing items, and problems performing tasks or activities that were previously done without effort.  However, issues other than Alzheimer’s can cause dementia.  Dementia can be caused by many disorders from brain disease, traumatic brain injury, alcohol abuse, Parkinson’s Disease, just to name a few.

Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually the ability to carry out the simplest tasks.  

Experts suggest that more than 5 million Americans may have Alzheimer’s.  Alzheimer’s disease is currently ranked as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.  Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia among older adults.

Alzheimer’s disease is named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer. In 1906, Dr. Alzheimer noticed changes in the brain tissue of a woman who had died of an unusual mental illness. Her symptoms included memory loss, language problems, and unpredictable behavior. After she died, he examined her brain and found many abnormal clumps (now called amyloid plaques) and tangled bundles of fibers (now called neurofibrillary, or tau, tangles).  Plaques and tangles in the brain are still considered some of the main features of Alzheimer’s disease.

The Memory & Aging Center of New Jersey can perform a free Memory Screening and recommend treatments if needed.  Contact us for more information.