Alzheimer's disease and dementia aren't terms that can be used interchangeably. Alzheimer's disease is a type of dementia, but not all forms of dementia are considered Alzheimer's disease. Rather than being a specific disease, dementia describes a certain set of symptoms. These symptoms impact day-to-day functioning, the ability to communicate, and overall memory. There are multiple types of dementia that have been identified, with Alzheimer's disease being the most common. Dementia can also manifest as a symptom of other conditions.
The symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer's disease have a strong overlap, but it's important to distinguish between them for proper treatment. Different types of dementia are treated differently, and the approach to Alzheimer's treatment is different from many other conditions because it's a progressive disease.
What Is Dementia?
Dementia, as stated, refers to a set of symptoms from disorders that affect the brain. The main overarching component of dementia-related symptoms is that cognitive functioning is impaired. This means the way an affected individual processes, categorizes, and recalls information is compromised. Dementia patients may have trouble with both their short-term and long-term memory. They may become confused about where they are, what they're doing, what time it is, and who the people around them are.
Reasoning can also be impaired due to dementia. It might be difficult to solve problems or fully complete tasks. Some individuals have multiple types of dementia at once, which is referred to as mixed dementia. Individuals with mixed dementia may have several conditions that contribute to their dementia. Mixed dementia, unfortunately, can only be diagnostically confirmed during an autopsy. Progressive dementia, which means the condition worsens over time, has a significant impact on a patient's ability to live alone and function in day-to-day life.