Alzheimer’s and dementia are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but there are actually key differences among them. While the former refers to a condition, the latter is an all-encompassing term used to describe a series of symptoms. Here, we take a closer look at the differences between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia to cultivate a better understanding of the terms.
Dementia: A Series of Symptoms
Dementia is often referred to as an “umbrella term” which refers to a number of different symptoms. In broad terms, these symptoms affect an individual’s ability to perform daily tasks independently. More specifically, the symptoms can include behavioral changes, declining memory, altered thinking or reasoning skills, and reduced focus.
Alzheimer’s is one condition which contributes to dementia, but it is not the only condition linked to this set of symptoms. In fact, it’s possible for people to suffer from more than one type of dementia, and more than 47 million people are affected by it worldwide. There are other types and causes of dementia, such as Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
Alzheimer’s: A Specific Condition
One of the simplest ways to remember the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia is to think of Alzheimer’s as a condition, while dementia is a syndrome. Alzheimer’s is responsible for between 60-80% of all dementia cases, making it the most common form of dementia.
Alzheimer’s is progressive, meaning it worsens over time. It destroys the memory as well as other critical mental functions, which is why patients often experience significant personality changes over time. A decline in social and intellectual skills also impacts the condition’s sufferers. While the majority of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease are 65 and older, an estimated 200,000 Americans are younger than 65 and suffer from early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Although there is currently no known cure for this condition, it is still possible for individuals who have been diagnosed to enjoy a high quality of life. Implementing lifestyle changes and enlisting the help of specialists are among the best ways to proactively manage Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia.
Whether you have been recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or you’re caring for someone with the condition, maintaining a high quality of life often means adjusting daily routines. While the precise types of adjustments needed will vary at different points in time, one way to manage stressors is to find coping strategies that effectively alleviate each challenge as it arises. Here, we explore some daily living tips you or your family members may find helpful.
Create & Follow a Daily Routine
Sticking to a routine can help ensure daily tasks get accomplished. It may help to follow a written plan each day. Also, many Alzheimer’s patients find that important appointments and other key tasks are best scheduled in the morning, when alertness is at its peak.
Focus on One Task at a Time
The Mayo Clinic explains that reducing distractions can help individuals improve their focus. Instead of doing housework while talking on the phone, for instance, devoting attention to one activity at a time may make it easier to concentrate.
Connect with Others
Socializing doesn’t just improve mood; it can also support mental health. According to a study conducted by the University of Michigan, even just ten minutes of social interaction can boost cognitive performance. Make a point to share meals with others, see friends, or stay active in the community to get plenty of interaction with others.
Find a Support System
Whether it’s church, a group that meets in person, or an online, there are many outlets for people living with Alzheimer’s to go for support. Family, friends, and even pets can also be sources of strength on particularly challenging days.
Pinpoint any stressors that trigger anxiety or other negative feelings and find ways to actively avoid them. For instance, if feeling rushed leads to frustration, make sure others know that you need more time.
Keep Your Doctor’s Appointments
Attending doctor’s appointments can be difficult with transportation challenges, but according to the Alzheimer’s Association, doctors play a critical role in helping both patients and their families. Thus, it’s important to maintain scheduled visits whenever possible. Physicians and specialists can help patients select optimal medication for specific symptoms, recommend tailored disease management strategies, and provide treatment for any coexisting conditions. They may also have information about local clinical studies, which are becoming more prevalent as a result of accelerating research progress.