Health Talks: The difference between Alzheimer's disease and dementia

What’s the difference between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia?

Dementia is a general term used when people have cognitive or behavioral symptoms that interfere with work or normal daily activities, but no delirium or major psychiatric disorder that would explain the symptoms. Alzheimer’s disease is a specific brain disease and one of the most common causes of dementia for patients older than 65 years of age.

Is dementia part of aging?

No, dementia isn’t a “normal” part of aging. If patients experience memory loss or any decline from their previous level of functioning, or behavioral changes, they should get an evaluation from their primary care doctor who can initiate a referral to a cognitive specialist to establish a diagnosis and treatment.

What should you do if you see signs of dementia in someone you love?

Anyone experiencing signs of dementia should get evaluated by their primary care doctor, who can refer them to a cognitive specialist. An easy thing to do while waiting for an evaluation is to download the SAGE test from our website. This is a self-administered geriatric cognitive evaluation developed by our director and team. There are instructions on the website about how to score the test.

How to spot the early signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

Can mental stimulation help prevent dementia or delay its progression?

Mental stimulation is always a good friend. “Use it or lose it” is what I like to say. There are studies that show that education earlier in life could help prevent dementia later in life. There is no harm in mental stimulation — it can only improve cognitive function.

What medications are available for Alzheimer’s disease? 

There are newer drugs available for those who are part of a clinical trial sponsored by the Centers for Medicare Services (CMS) or the National Institute of Health. This is to ensure efficacious medications. There are also several other medications currently being evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.

For answers to other questions about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, watch the full video above.


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