Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s
The terms “dementia” and “Alzheimer’s” are sometimes used interchangeably. However, these two conditions aren’t the same. Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia.
Dementia is a broader term for conditions with symptoms relating to memory loss such as forgetfulness and confusion. Dementia includes more specific conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury, and others, which can cause these symptoms.
Causes, symptoms, and treatments can be different for these diseases.
Alzheimer’s disease causes and risk factors
Experts haven’t determined a single cause of Alzheimer’s disease but they have identified certain risk factors, including:
Age. Most people who develop Alzheimer’s disease are 65 years of age or older.
Family history. If you have an immediate family member who has developed the condition, you’re more likely to get it.
Genetics. Certain genes have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
Having one or more of these risk factors doesn’t mean that you’ll develop Alzheimer’s disease. It simply raises your risk level.
To learn more about your personal risk of developing the condition, talk with your doctor.
Alzheimer’s and genetics
While there’s no one identifiable cause of Alzheimer’s, genetics may play a key role. One gene in particular is of interest to researchers. Apolipoprotein E (APOE) is a gene that’s been linked to the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms in older adults.
Blood tests can determine if you have this gene, which increases your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Keep in mind that even if someone has this gene, they may not get Alzheimer’s.
The opposite is also true: Someone may still get Alzheimer’s even if they don’t have the gene. There’s no way to tell for sure whether someone will develop Alzheimer’s.
Other genes could also increase risk of Alzheimer’s and early onset Alzheimer’s.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
Everyone has episodes of forgetfulness from time to time. But people with Alzheimer’s disease display certain ongoing behaviors and symptoms that worsen over time. These can include:
-memory loss affecting daily activities, such as an ability to keep appointments
-trouble with familiar tasks, such as using a microwave
-difficulties with problem-solving
-trouble with speech or writing
-becoming disoriented about times or places
-decreased personal hygiene
-mood and personality changes
-withdrawal from friends, family, and community
Symptoms change according to the stage of the disease.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, which means the symptoms will gradually worsen over time. Alzheimer’s is broken down into seven stages:
-Stage 1. There are no symptoms at this stage but there might be an early diagnosis based on family history.
-Stage 2. The earliest symptoms appear, such as forgetfulness.
-Stage 3. Mild physical and mental impairments appear, such as reduced memory and concentration. These may only be noticeable by someone very close to the person.
-Stage 4. Alzheimer’s is often diagnosed at this stage, but it’s still considered mild. Memory loss and the inability to perform everyday tasks is evident.
-Stage 5. Moderate to severe symptoms require help from loved ones or caregivers.
-Stage 6. At this stage, a person with Alzheimer’s may need help with basic tasks, such as eating and putting on clothes.
-Stage 7. This is the most severe and final stage of Alzheimer’s. There may be a loss of speech and facial expressions.
If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s, you may consider becoming a caregiver. This is a full-time job that’s typically not easy but can be very rewarding.In most cases, family members are not available to assume this role and a better option would be to hire a caregiver from a trusted home care agency such as Royal Home Caregivers