Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are frequently confused — it is not uncommon to hear these terms used almost interchangeably in day-to-day conversations. Yet, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease refer to two different things. If your elderly loved one is dealing with either mental health condition, it is essential that you understand the differences.
Only with an accurate diagnosis will an elderly person actually be in the right position to receive the care and treatment that they need and deserve. In some cases, EEOICPA and RECA benefits may even provide free home health care services for patients dealing with dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease.
Dementia is a General Term — Describing Various Symptoms of Mental Decline
Dementia is not a specific disease, nor is it a specific medical condition. Instead, it is used as a more general term to describe the presence of various signs of cognitive decline. The National Institute on Aging defines dementia as a loss of mental functioning — in thinking ability, reasoning ability, and memory — to the point that it is severe enough to adversely affect a person’s day-to-day activities.
In its early stages, dementia may only have a mild or moderate impact on the patient. However, frequently, dementia slowly becomes more severe as time passes. It is frequently an irreversible and incurable condition. Alzheimer’s disease, the leading cause of dementia, cannot be reversed. However, there are a number of different other causes of dementia as well — from serious brain injuries to other brain disorders. Some forms of dementia can be cured.
Alzheimer’s Disease is the Most Common Type of Dementia
Alzheimer’s disease is a specific type of dementia. As we have mentioned previously, Alzheimer’s is the leading cause of dementia in the United States — with it accounting for nearly two-thirds of all dementia cases.
The 2019 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures Report indicates that age is the single greatest risk factor in the development of Alzheimer’s. Other risk factors include family history and presence of the APOE-e4 gene. Though, it is impossible to predict who will develop Alzheimer’s disease.
Typically, the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s are short-term memory loss, unusual mood swings, irritability, and degradation of judgement and reasoning skills. In typical cases, these symptoms will become slowly become more pronounced. Sadly, there is no cure — but the condition can be managed.
A Proper Diagnosis is the Key to Getting the Best Health Care
With any mental health condition, a proper diagnosis is critically important. If your elderly loved one is dealing with symptoms of cognitive decline, it is imperative that you help them get immediate medical attention from a professional. First and foremost, doctors need to figure out what exactly is going on. In some cases, such as with infections, it may even be possible to ‘cure’ the problem.
Once the condition is diagnosed and understood, you can assist your loved one get the health care services that they need to live the highest possible quality of life. Whether your loved one is suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or any other mental health conditions, there are options available.