You’ve probably had it happen with a loved one – they’ve forgotten something that is obvious, or their forgetfulness is completely uncharacteristic. You immediately think, “is it the beginning of Alzheimer’s?”
More often than not, it’s simply a natural part of aging. It’s important to know and understand the difference — and be able to recognize the signs of Alzheimer’s as early as possible to ensure safety and hopefully slow the progression.
Recently, Atria Senior Living published a great article explaining the differences between dementia and Alzheimer’s, as well as the signs to look for.
(Published by Atria) Dementia is not a disease, but a broad term that refers to various conditions of more serious cognitive impairment. It is caused by damage to brain cells which can affect thinking, behavior and feelings. There are many types of dementia including Lewy body dementia, mixed dementia, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia and more. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia – accounting for 60–80% of dementia cases.
What we know about Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most prevalent health concerns among adults ages 65 and older and is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. It is a degenerative disease resulting from brain cell damage where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over time.
Scientists are working hard to identify what causes this damage. They do know that, as this damage spreads, the brain cells lose their ability to function and then die. This causes irreversible changes in the brain that leads to memory failure, personality changes and problems carrying out daily activities. A person with Alzheimer’s lives four to eight years on average after diagnosis, but depending on other factors, can live as long as 20 years.