One elderly mom called her son late at night crying in shock because she could not find her favorite expensive coat. Of course, the son rushed to comfort his mother just find out that her coat is inside the fridge. This could be amusing to some however to the loved ones who are experiencing this predicament, it is not a laughing matter.
However, to properly diagnose and understand what's happening to this lady, we have to file this under the case of usual confusion whenever people talk about Alzheimer's and Dementia. And this distinction between Alzheimer's and dementia can be quite puzzling to figure out!
Dementia could be explained as a loss of memory associated with various clinical conditions. It just happens to be one of the signs of Alzheimer's disease. It is defined by a reduction of the level of psychological and intellectual performance of a person. Cases of this illness can also happen in intense alcohol addiction, as an outcome of stroke.
Dementia is frequently identified in the senior population, with a start of age 65. Actual patient brain scans will show physical difference between Alzheimer's and dementia. The major and unfortunate distinction between Alzheimer's and dementia is that most types of the latter can be cured.
However, the Alzheimer's, in the current state of medical science, does not have a proven remedy and eventually leads to gradual degradation of patient's memory. Patients diagnosed with Alzheimer's signs could be very young, even in their thirties.
The knowledge and expectations of what you or your loved one is dealing with is crucial in this case. Understanding the difference between Alzheimer's and dementia requires the knowledge of two important facts. First of all, Alzheimer's disease is a form of dementia but all dementia is not Alzheimer's disease. The second bit of knowledge required is the definition of dementia. Dementia is a deficiency in one's mental capabilities severe enough to interfere with the ability to perform activities of daily living without help.
Cognition is the term for the mental processes necessary for performing those activities. It is the mental processing of information which the senses receive. It involves knowing, recognizing, remembering, comprehending, reasoning and sometimes forming mental pictures. It is the basis for making rational judgments and decisions. It is also a process for acquiring knowledge. It is distinct from emotion and will.
The mental deficits associated with Alzheimer's disease and other forms are due to structural damage or destruction of areas of the brain. In Alzheimer's disease it involves the outer layer of the brain – the cortex – including the area which houses memory. Other forms of this mental degradation affect different areas of the brain. Some of those areas overlap with Alzheimer's and with other forms, which explains the variation and commonality in the signs and symptoms of the different forms.
Dementia can occur at any age but most commonly after the age of 60. The frequency of it increases with age. Some studies estimate that 13.9% of people 71 years of age or older have some form of this condition. An estimated 60% to 80% of all cases are Alzheimer's disease – an estimated 4.7 million people 65 years of age or older in the United States. It is expected that by 2050 13.8 million people 65 years of age or older will have the disease.
The second most common form after Alzheimer's disease is vascular dementia which accounts for between 20% and 30% of the cases in the United States. Other well recognized but less common forms are dementia with lewy bodies, progressive supranuclear palsy, cortical basal degeneration, multiple system atrophy, Parkinson disease, frontotemporal type, primary progressive aphasia, normal pressure hydrocephalus, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is the human equivalent of mad cow disease. Some even rarer forms of this illness are those resulting from the immune system attacking brain tissue. Sometimes, but not always, that immune system attack (autoimmune disease) is associated with cancer.
Alzheimer's disease and other forms of this mental illness in general are not curable. Many of the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease respond temporarily to medications though, unlike most of the other forms of dementia.
Based on the definition of dementia, there are some forms which are treatable and potentially reversible. They include nutritional deficiencies, particularly vitamin B-12 and vitamin B1. Other potentially reversible forms include those resulting from infections or mechanical injury to the brain, brain tumors, hormonal disorders, certain drugs, reduced oxygen and alcoholism. Also, the cases associated with hydrocephalus are sometimes reversible with the placement of a shunt.