The Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimer’s

It’s common knowledge that our brains change as we age. Older adults lose memory and cognitive functions, some more than others.

Dementia is clinical symptom that describes the decline in a person’s mental ability to the point where activities of daily life are affected. This includes preparing meals, driving, paying bills, arranging and remembering appointments.

Causes of Dementia

There are many causes of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is one of them, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of all cases in the U.S. Other causes of dementia include stroke (vascular dementia), alcoholism, vitamin deficiency, medication side effects, and thyroid problems.

Dementia is a result of brain cell damage and death.  Areas of the brain that control memory, reasoning, emotions and motor skills can no longer function properly. In the case of Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia, these symptoms are progressive and irreversible. They can, however, be slowed down with medication.

Causes of Alzheimer’s

Age, genetics, lifestyle, and environment are related to a person’s chances of having Alzheimer’s, with age being the highest risk factor. Women get Alzheimer’s twice as often as men, partly because they live longer.

In Alzheimer’s, amyloid protein plaques are formed in the brain, inhibiting cells to communicate with each other. Tau is another protein that abnormally forms tangles in the nerve cells of the brain, and is thought to be the main cause of nerve cell death.