While they may seem similar, Alzheimer’s and dementia are not the same. Dementia is a broad term that refers to symptoms that impact memory, the performance of daily activities, and communication abilities. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is progressive, meaning that it gets worse as time goes on.
Dementia describes a set of symptoms associated with a decline in memory, reasoning, or other cognitive skills. There are many different types of dementia, and there are just as many conditions that cause it. Mixed dementia is an illness in which various types of dementia occur at the same time. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. It accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases.
While aging can bring plenty of health changes, dementia is not a natural part of that process. Dementia is caused by damage to brain cells that affects the ability to communicate, behave, and process emotions.
Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease that is caused by cell damage. It can result in dementia symptoms that gradually get worse over time. Because the disease attacks the part of the brain responsible for learning first, one of the most common symptoms of Alzheimer’s is difficulty retaining and remembering new information.
As Alzheimer’s advances, symptoms can include disorientation, confusion, and behavior changes. Speaking, swallowing, and walking can also become difficult. There is no way to prevent, cure, or slow down Alzheimer’s disease.
While most older adults are at a higher risk for Alzheimer’s, the disease is not a part of the natural aging process. Most people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older, but approximately 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 have early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
The outlook for dementia patients relies entirely on its direct cause. For instance, proper treatment can help manage dementia caused by Parkinson’s disease. There are types of dementia that are reversible, but most are not.
Alzheimer’s is a terminal disease and there is no cure currently available. The average person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s has an estimated lifespan of about four to eight years. However, some people can live with the disease for up to 20 years.
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