Alzheimers/Dementia....

MillyP

Registered User
Jan 5, 2007
108
London
Please can someone explain to me what the difference is between Alzheimers and Dementia. As you know, my Dad suffers from Dementia and I have a friend whos husband had Alzheimers but died last year and to be honest apart from her husband living longer with this dredful disease (10 years) and my Dads being a very quick illness to come on him, most, if not all of the symptoms they both had appear to be the same....so what is the difference. Thanks:)
 

Nebiroth

Registered User
Aug 20, 2006
3,511
As I understand things:

In general, "dementia" is a term used to describe symptoms , in this case a progressive loss in cognitive functions.

There are many possible causes of dementia.

Alzheimer's (Disease) is a specific condition, with a specific underlying physical cause, which causes the symptoms of dementia and which is diagnosed through the symptoms presented, cognitive tests and the elimination of other possible causes (such as a thyroid condition).

I believe there is no way to physically and definitively diagnose it other than an autopsy and examination of the brain.

So dementia is not a specific disease as such but more a descriptive term.

It's a bit like saying "that person has a spotty rash" as opposed to "that person has measles". Both are equally valid.

Alzheimer's Disease is by far the most common cause of dementia.

Just to add to the confusion, it's possible for a person to have more than one of the diseases at the same time.

Also, some of the diseases have "dementia" in their names, for example, Vascular Dementia.

They all have symptoms in common, but usually progress in different ways, with some symptoms being rare with one disease but common in another.

For example, Alzheimers is usually marked by a slow and gradual decline, whilst people with Vascular tend towards periods of stability and sudden occasional declines.

However, every person is unique, it's almost impossible to say how things will go or what will happen, or when.

It might be worth your asking your dad's GP or specialist for more information.
 
Last edited:

Taffy

Registered User
Apr 15, 2007
1,314
Hi Milly,
This question was also asked, at the dementia support group I attend. Nebiroth's reply, was very similiar to the reply given by the groups coordinator. Sorry to hear about your dad. Take Care. Taffy.
 

MillyP

Registered User
Jan 5, 2007
108
London
Thanks everyone, that's made it alot clearer. The reason I asked was because of the programme that was aired last night on TV...my Mum said she wasn't going to watch it (although she did) because as she says "Dad hasn't got Alzheimers, it's totally different"....to which I replied, it's not that different, and I find I am right after watching it and reading your links...What a terrible disease Dementia is, no matter how it starts...it all leads to one thing...memory loss and deterioration of the mind and body. As I explained to my Mum...it's like saying Dads got cancer of the leg and that other man has got cancer of the arm...at the end of the day they both have cancer and it does the same thing no matter what part of the body it's in...it grows and spreads if not caught early. In denial, as they say:(
 

Nebiroth

Registered User
Aug 20, 2006
3,511
I'm afraid you are right. The different causes tend to mean that the dementia progresses in different ways, with some symptoms common in one disease but rare in others (for example, I believe that visual/auditory hallucinations are more common in Picks Disease than Alzheimers), but all involve progressive damage to the brain, with the inevitable result of what is recognisably "dementia".
 

Margarita

Registered User
Feb 17, 2006
10,824
london
Nebiroth

you have explained it so clearly , my mother got AZ , Vascular Dementia.

because she is diabetic , which she never took her medication corrected for years because she was caring for my brother so by the time she had brain scan was told she has AZ .

Mind you her doctor does not call it AZ [brain scan was done in gibraltar ] he refereed to it in a letter as this Lady has a sieve form of dementia yes my doctor like to confuse me :rolleyes:

[so milly thanks for starting this thread ]

but maybe he was thinking alone the line of
I believe there is no way to physically and definitively diagnose it other than an autopsy and examination of the brain
as his also a consultant neurology at are local hospital
 
Last edited: