“What is the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease?” It’s a frequent query, and physicians are experts at perplexing us. Doctors appear to prefer the term “dementia,” perhaps because Alzheimer’s has become such a loaded term. Many people find the term “dementia” less frightening, and even experts have begun to use the terms interchangeably.
They cannot be used interchangeably. Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are not the same thing.
Dementia is one of the symptoms. Pain is a symptom, and it may be caused by a variety of injuries and diseases. If you go to the doctor because you are in pain, you will be disappointed if the doctor diagnoses “pain” and sends you home. You’re curious about what’s causing the discomfort and how to remedy it.
“Dementia” is simply a symptom of a decline in intellectual abilities caused by an unspecified disease or disorder of the brain.
Alzheimer’s disease is one of the diseases/conditions that cause dementia. Dementia can also be caused by a variety of other illnesses or “syndromes.” Dementia may be caused by Parkinson’s disease. Dementia may be caused by a stroke. Dehydration can also cause dementia.
Many of the causes of dementia are treatable, even potentially curable.
You have not received a diagnosis of “dementia” if you have taken your elderly relative to the doctor. You cannot begin to treat dementia until you know what is causing it.
If your doctor has diagnosed “dementia,” seek a second opinion. You’re probably dealing with a doctor who is either uncomfortable with the truth or who doesn’t know how (or doesn’t want to bother) distinguishing between all of the possible causes of dementia. In either case, a skilled geriatrician or neurologist who is familiar with senior citizens would be a good place to start.