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What's the Difference between Dementia and Alzheimer's?

Lovely Patient and Doctor

Millions of Americans experience some form of dementia; the most common form being Alzheimer’s disease. Despite affecting so many people, Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are not widely understood and terms are sometimes used interchangeably.  In reality, the terms Alzheimer’s and dementia can mean very different things.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke defines dementia as:

“… [A] word for a group of symptoms caused by disorders that affect the brain. It is not a specific disease. People with dementia may not be able to think well enough to do normal activities, such as getting dressed or eating. They may lose their ability to solve problems or control their emotions. Their personalities may change. They may become agitated or see things that are not there.”


What is Alzheimer’s disease?

First described by the German physician and neuropathologist Alois Alzheimer in 1906, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia worldwide. Alzheimer’s causes a progressive degeneration of the brain’s ability to function, eventually leading to death.  The causes of Alzheimer’s disease are not widely understood and no cure currently exists.

Alzheimer’s is the most common and well known disease to cause dementia. However many other diseases can cause dementia, some of which can be treated effectively with medication.

Other forms of Dementia

  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD)
  • Dementia with Lewy Bodies
  • Frontotemporal Dementia
  • Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Vascular Dementia
  • Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

Talk to your physician for more information about Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia and the treatments available.

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