General Question

JonnyCeltics's avatar

What is the difference between Dementia and Alzheimer's?

Asked by JonnyCeltics (2716points) September 15th, 2010

They both freak me out…and I’ve never been able to tell the difference. Do both just deal with memory loss? Does one onset before the other?

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12 Answers

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Alzheimer’s is a specific type of dementia.

This is actually really good, and sourced: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dementia

Seek's avatar

^^ Got to it first.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Copy and paste, works every time ;)

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@papayalily is absolutely right. Dementia itself is not a disease, it is technically a symptom, and it is exactly what it sounds like. The lost of mental functions (often related to memory). Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia, other forms of dementia that you might be familiar with are Parkinson’s and Huntington’s.
Dementia is not always caused by disease. Things like drug abuse or even a subdural hematoma (a bruise on the brain, head trauma.) and in many cases can be treated and even cured. Alzheimer’s, on the other hand, has no cure.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie Yet. Has no cure, yet.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@papayalily yes, absolutely, no cure yet.

phoebusg's avatar

Yes, as per first poster. There is rising evidence that vitamin B complexes help protect neurons and avoid Dementia (for longer).

Seaminglysew's avatar

papaylily is correct., neither one is easy to deal with. Your love for the person that is afflicted will get you through it. Try to remember the good times that make you smile and grateful that this person was part of your life. I have lived with both, and am thankful that these people were part of my life and my learning experience. I only hope that my children will show such compassion with me if needed.

Kraigmo's avatar

In my experience, there’s sometimes no way to know for sure what the problem the person has.

My grandma was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, which is supposed to be a progressive disease. But when they cut her leg off due to the veins in her foot not working…. after that her Alzheimer’s symptoms decreased by 90%, which isn’t supposed to be possible with Alzheimer’s. She went from a major problem, to a minor problem. Her ability to recognize friends and family came back. Her memories came back. The only thing she forgot was that her leg got cut off, and she’d occasionally ask what happened to her leg. But that was a lot better than before, when she didn’t even recognize me.

skfinkel's avatar

@Kraigmo That’s fascinating about your grandmother. Perhaps she never really had Alzheimer’s but rather something associated with the disease in her leg, which when removed, made her better in her mind as well.

Kraigmo's avatar

@skfinkel , I think you’re right. I think the pain in her leg must have been tremendous, but not in the normal way pain works.

This reminds me of how clear headed I feel after I get a tooth pulled that has been bothering me. Or how I feel when a crown is removed. It’s as if I can think again. Like I can breathe again. And in my grandma’s case, her leg problem seemed to affect her entire brain’s abilities.

But like you said, the fact that her memories came back and she got better, clinically removes the Alzheimers diagnosis.

buddhadyoung's avatar

Alzheimer’s is a specific type of dementia and the most common form…

The only 100% way for someone to diagnose Alzheimer’s is to do a brain autopsy, which can only be done when dead…. usually when someone who is alive is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, They diagnose by ruling out other diagnoses, situations, and conditions.

For example….
Someone elderly, starts showing signs and symptoms of dementia (confusion, forgetfulness), if they haven’t been recently started on any new meds, they will be tested for a UTI (Urinary tract infection, which confusion is the #1 symptom in older adults for UTIs), if they have started any new meds, the health team will review them to determine if the issue lies there. they will then be tested for an electrolyte imbalance, and so on until they could not rule out any other reason for their behavior…...

Nurse

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