Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease aren’t interchangeable terms, but they are related. The National Institute of Neurological disorders and Stroke describes dementia as a group of symptoms caused by various brain disorders. Alzheimer’s disease is a specific disease that causes dementia.
Alzheimer's is just one disease that can cause dementia. Others include stroke, vascular dementia and head injury. Common symptoms of dementia include forgetfulness, memory loss, poor judgment and confusion. When dementia becomes severe, those who suffer from it may become unable to live alone. Dementia is also called senility, but it’s important to note that dementia isn’t directly related to reaching a senile age.
Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease
According to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia in people over 65. It is a degenerative disorder that attacks neurons in the brain, causing symptoms of dementia. Alzheimer’s isn’t a normal result of aging, but an actual disease. Those diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease live for an average of eight to 10 years from diagnosis.
The National Institute on Aging suggests talking to your doctor when you or a loved one begins showing signs of serious memory problems or uncharacteristic behavior. Those with a family history of Alzheimer’s disease should be especially on the lookout for early signs such as forgetfulness and confusion about time or place. Those with a diagnosis should work closely with caregivers to establish proper care as the disease progresses.
Preventative Measures and Treatment
There’s no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but adults can take measures to slow down dementia symptoms and improve memory. Consider encouraging elderly loved ones to stay healthy and limit alcohol use. Hobbies and memory games can help keep the mind sharp. Those who have been diagnosed with dementia as a result of Alzheimer’s disease may be prescribed medications to help with memory, but these can’t stop the progress of the disease. Those with Alzheimer’s disease generally need long term care for an extended period of time once the disease has progressed and caused impairments.
The Senior Health Clinic at North Hills Hospital is staffed with professionals uniquely trained to treat the various health needs of our geriatric community. If you or a loved one is showing signs of dementia, please contact us. We can assist with diagnosis, treatment, support groups and living assistance. For more information, please visit us online or call our physician referral line at 1-855-5NHILLS.