Understanding the Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

Portrait of a mother and daughter embracing at home.

Are Alzheimer’s disease and dementia one and the same? It’s easy to understand why many people think they are. The terms are frequently used interchangeably, often incorrectly. The truth is that dementia is a broad term used to describe a variety of conditions and symptoms that cause a decline in memory, reasoning or additional thinking/reasoning skills.

Of the many types of dementia, Alzheimer’s is the most common. The disease accounts for an estimated 60% to 80% of all cases of dementia. There are believed to be as many as 50 other types and causes of dementia, though most of them are quite rare. Other common forms of dementia include vascular, Lewy body, frontotemporal and Parkinson’s dementia.

The Stages and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

Being diagnosed with any type of dementia means a person has been identified as having a specific set of symptoms that contribute to memory loss. It’s essential that people learn as much as they can about their or a loved one’s particular form of dementia.

When it comes to a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, learning what stage the disease has reached is also important. This knowledge will help families understand what to expect in the months ahead. Educating yourself will help you navigate challenging yet common behaviors, such as attempting to wander from home or being unable to sleep.

Here is a brief overview of the three basic stages of Alzheimer’s:

  • Early stage: At this point in the disease, symptoms are typically mild and more easily overlooked. The most common sign that older adults and their loved ones usually notice is forgetfulness. Problems remembering names or recalling recent activities and events are classic examples. Another is misplacing personal and household items, such as car keys and glasses. A person might also begin to experience problems managing finances. It’s not uncommon for an adult with Alzheimer’s to fall victim to a financial scam.
  • Middle stage: Researchers say this is the stage of Alzheimer’s that typically lasts the longest. It can go on for many years. A person might have problems reading, writing or balancing a checkbook. They may also struggle to hold up their end of a conversation. Because short-term memory is impacted, people in mid-stage Alzheimer’s struggle with tasks that require abstract thought. Those often include learning new things, planning meals and tending to personal grooming and dressing. Agitation, mood changes, anxiety and tearfulness are also common.
  • Late stage: People with Alzheimer’s that has advanced to the later stage will need help with almost all tasks. They often lose the ability to walk, talk and feed themselves. While they may be able to speak a few words, having a conversation is usually not possible. Many people with late-stage Alzheimer’s are unable to control their bowels and bladder. This tends to be the shortest stage, typically lasting between one to two years.

If someone in your life has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, learning more about the resources available in your community is essential.

Find Support at American Senior Communities

One type of care that American Senior Communities specializes in is supporting people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. We have different levels of care to meet each stage of the disease. We invite you to call the Indiana location nearest you to learn more or schedule a private tour!

Subscribe to Our Blog

Recent Posts

Did you enjoy this article? Share it with your friends!

Disclaimer: The statements on this blog are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The author does not in any way guarantee or warrant the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any message and will not be held responsible for the content of any message. Always consult your personal physician for specific medical advice.

Download Floor Plans & Pricing Information

Download Floor Plans & Pricing Information