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How do dementia and Alzheimer’s differ?

Dementia and Alzheimer’s are two conditions that are common in older individuals. They are quite similar, which is why people often confuse them. 

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are some distinct differences between dementia and Alzheimer’s. However, there are also similarities. 

Similarities

Dementia and Alzheimer’s both cause a decline in memory and other cognitive skills. A person can have both conditions. Alzheimer’s is the leading cause of dementia. Neither dementia nor Alzheimer’s are a normal part of aging. Both are medical conditions that require treatment. 

Differences

Dementia occurs when brain cells undergo some type of damage. There are many types of dementia. Some types of dementia have causes that you can treat to reverse the effects and eliminate dementia or stop it from progressing. This condition usually only occurs in older adults. 

Alzheimer’s is a disease of the brain. It leads to cell damage. Alzheimer’s will get worse over time and progresses through stages. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s and treatments will only slow down the degenerative process of the disease. It is most common for older people to get Alzheimer’s, but it can occur at any age. 

There is also a proven genetic link with Alzheimer’s, meaning that if you have a close relative who has the disease, then you have a higher chance of also getting it. Do note, though, there is no way to prevent it from occurring. 

The most important thing to keep in mind is that dementia has potential treatments and cures whereas Alzheimer’s does not. A doctor can properly assess you or your loved one to see the type of damage in the brain to determine if it is Alzheimer’s or dementia. 

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