Are you confused about the connection between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease? You’re 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, here’s a definition of dementia. It’s actually a collection of symptoms, or a syndrome, according to Darlene Field, a local Alzheimer Care Consultant.
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.
Although most 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
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.
About Advantage Home Care
Advantage Home Care provides a wide variety of in-home senior services, including non-medical care. The Maine Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association provides specialized training to all our caregivers.