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Dementia and Alzheimer’s – What is the Difference?

 Have you noticed some definite changes in a loved one? They are repeating themselves, asking the same questions over and over again. Possibly they are losing weight and are not keeping themselves up like they used to. Maybe they have lost a filter with what they say or exhibit strange or inappropriate behavior.

What is the difference between Dementia and Alzheimer’s?

Think of Dementia as being an umbrella over categories of symptoms. There are literally hundreds of types of Dementia, but some of the most common you will hear about are:

Vascular Dementia:  memory loss caused by a stroke or probably multiple strokes.

Frontal/Temporal Dementia: Frontal Dementia affects the “Frontal” lobes of the brain, sometimes known as our “Executive Center”. This is where our decision making and behavior stem from. If there is marked difficulty in making decisions or unfiltered words or behaviors, this type of Dementia may be present. Temporal Dementia is the sides of the brain where language stems from. Loss of being able to find the right words or understanding what is being said may be a sign of this type.

Lewy Body Dementia: Has similarities to Parkinson’s Disease in that you may notice a person shuffling their feet when they walk or have trembling hands. They will most likely also have hallucinations – seeing people or things that are not really there but are very real to them.

Alzheimer’s Disease: Is an actual disease of the brain causing nerve cells to die and causing memory loss. This will progress to the point of not being able to feed oneself, eventually being bed bound and death.

Although this all sounds so bleak, Banner’s Alzheimer’s Institute among Others are constantly researching ways to one day find a cure. In the meantime, there are medications and supplements that can be taken to help slow the progression down. If you notice any of these signs, see the Doctor and have a definitive diagnosis so that a plan of action can begin.

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