If you are confused about the connection between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, you are not alone. The simplest explanation is that Alzheimer’s is a disease that causes dementia. In fact, Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia. We’ll get to other causes in a moment. First a definition of dementia, which is actually a collection of symptoms, or a syndrome, according to Darlene Field, an Alzheimer Care Consultant who works with Advantage Home Care.
Definition of dementia
Dementia: a usually progressive condition marked by the development of multiple cognitive deficits, e.g., memory impairment, aphasia (inability to use or comprehend words) and inability to plan and initiate complex behavior. Source: Merriam-Webster
Symptoms of dementia
- Memory loss
- Difficulty with complex tasks
- Disorientation to time and place
- Language problems
- Lack of concentration
- Problems recognizing objects
- Difficulty with old skills
- Personality change
- Loss of control
- Difficulty thinking logically
- Difficulty using reason
Memory loss may be at the top of the list of symptoms, but by itself memory loss doesn’t mean you have dementia. You have to have problems in at least two areas.
And although the majority of people who have been diagnosed with dementia have Alzheimer’s disease, there are many more causes of dementia symptoms, some of which may surprise you.
Causes of dementia symptoms
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Vascular issues (strokes, “hardening of the arteries”)
- Chronic alcoholism
- Vitamin deficiency
- Metabolic disorders
- Hormone disorders
- Head injury
- Brain tumor
- Exposure to toxins
- Lack of oxygen
- Medication abuse or reactions
- Late-state Parkinson’s disease
- Rare disorders, such as:
- Lewy body disease
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
- Pick’s disease
- Huntington disease
Any way you look at it, Alzheimer’s disease or anything else on the list of dementia causes, can be heartbreaking. Some are reversible or treatable, which is just one reason why it’s important to get a correct diagnosis. Reversible or treatable causes of dementia include depression, infections, dehydration, malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies, hormone deficiencies and medication abuse/reactions.
If you’re like most people, especially as you age, you may worry about being forgetful. You may also be concerned about some changes you notice in your parents or another elderly loved one. This chart from Darlene Field might help a little.
Caring For a Loved One With Dementia
If you would like to learn more about caring for a loved one with dementia, Darlene will be presenting a one-day workshop in March and and again in April. You can choose either date: Thursday, March 21st or Thursday, April 18th. The workshop is sponsored by Fallbrook Woods and Advantage Home Care, and will be held at Fallbrook Woods, 60 Merrymeeting Drive, Portland from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. (Registration and coffee from 8:30 to 9:00)
To reserve a place or get more information, call 207.878.0788.