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Dementia and Alzheimer’s diseases are perhaps two of the most confused diseases that exist in the realm of mental degradation in America today. There are a number of differences, however, that allow for those dealing with symptoms characteristic of these two diseases to become more informed.
Comparing the Two Diseases
When comparing dementia vs. Alzheimer’s disease it is very important to discuss the differences between the two diseases. Although they have many similarities, there are a number of differences that must be noted.
Alzheimer’s disease is defined as a form of dementia characterized by the gradual loss of several important mental functions. It is perhaps the most common cause of dementia in older Americans, and goes beyond just normal forgetfulness, such as losing your car keys or forgetting where you parked. Signs of Alzheimer’s disease include memory loss that is much more severe and more serious, such as forgetting the names of your children or perhaps where you’ve lived for the last decade or two.
Another way to compare dementia vs. Alzheimer’s disease is to realize that dementia is a medical term used to describe a number of conditions characterized by the gradual loss of intellectual functions. Certain symptoms, as defined by the American Medical Association, of dementia include memory impairment, increased language difficulties, decreased motor skills, failure to recognized or identify objects, and disturbance of the ability to plan or think abstractly.
Yet another way to determine the differences of dementia vs. Alzheimer’s disease is when the onset of the disease was first noticed. Of course, this is a very difficult thing since the progression of both is very gradual, and often there is no one point where someone can say, “Aha!” and know that the disease has taken hold. Often the onset of Alzheimer’s can occur as early as 45 years of age. General dementia, however, usually is noted later in life, perhaps in the 70 to 80 year range.
When looking at dementia vs. Alzheimer’s disease, one type of dementia is often confused with Alzheimer’s disease – Multi-Infarct Dementia or MID. MID is a common cause of dementia in the elderly and occurs when blood clots block small blood vessels in the brain and destroys brain tissue. Symptoms of MID, which are very similar to Alzheimer’s disease, include confusion, problems with short term memory, wandering and getting lost in familiar places, loss of bladder and bowel control, and emotional problems such as laughing or crying during inappropriate times.