Many people confuse Alzheimer’s with Dementia, thinking they are the same, but this happens to be a common misconception. When it comes to Alzheimer’s and Dementia, one is a syndrome (dementia), and the other (Alzheimer) is a disease. Dementia is an overall term used to describe symptoms that affect a person’s memory, communication, and daily performance. However, along with other types and causes of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form of dementia, is a chronic and progressive disease, where dementia itself has symptoms that gradually worsen with time.
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s disease occurs when proteins (plaques) and fibers (tangles) develop in the brain blocking and destroying nerve cells. Memory loss will occur, mildly at first, but over time the symptoms will become worse making it challenging to engage in conversation and performing daily task. Other common symptoms consist of confusion, aggression, and changes in mood. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Alzheimer’s happens to be the sixth most common cause of death among U.S. adults. It places fifth among causes of death for people 65 years and older. In addition, as per the Alzheimers Organization (ALZ.org), about 60% to 80% of people who have dementia have Alzheimer’s disease and affects people over the age of 65 years old. Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging. The most significant known risk factor is increasing age, and the bulk of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older. But Alzheimer’s is not just a condition of old age. Approximately 200,000 souls in the United States under the age of 65 have younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
What is Dementia?
Dementia is not a specific illness; however, it’s an overall term that describes a group of symptoms connected with a decline in memory and thinking skills critical enough to lessen a person’s ability to conduct daily activities. Also, several conditions can cause symptoms of dementia, some being reversible, like thyroid issues and vitamin deficiencies.
Often dementia is referred to as “senility” or “senile dementia,” which reflects the formerly widespread but incorrect belief that a severe mental decline is a normal part of aging. That is not the case.
The several types of Dementia (Alzheimer’s being the most common stated above) are as follows:
- Vascular Dementia (when your brain doesn’t receive enough blood rich in oxygen). Causes problems planning and impair judgment.
- Dementia with Lewy bodies (When Lewy bodies which are abnormal clumps of a protein called alpha-synuclein build up in your cortex, the part of your brain that handles learning and memory.) Causes problems with attention, sleeping, driving and can cause hallucinations. Memory loss tends to show up later in the disease. Many of the symptoms are also similar to Parkinson’s disease (which is a form of dementia as well.)
- Mixed dementia is having a combination of two or more types of dementia. For instance, having vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease at once.
- Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) involves the loss of nerve cells in the front and side areas of your brain (behind your forehead and ears.) A person will experience personality and behavior changes, as well as difficulty communicating and understanding.
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) is a rare form of dementia that occurs when prion protein collapses into an irregular shape, and other prions follow suit, triggering a fast mental decline due to damaged brain cells. CJD is a generational disease, but can also happen to anyone. Symptoms include personality changes, mood swings, confusion, jerky, and difficulty walking.
- Huntington’s disease is a genetic disease passed down from a parent. It attacks the central part of your brain that regulates thinking, movement, and emotion. Symptoms begin between the ages of 30 and 50.
Unfortunately, a cure for Alzheimer’s disease has yet to be discovered, but treatments for symptoms are available. Although current Alzheimer’s treatments cannot stop Alzheimer’s from progressing, they can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life for those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. Neurofeedback therapy is a highly effective treatment for both Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. To learn more about how Neurofeedback Therapy can help please click here to review.
Dr. Elena Eustache is a specialist in Neurofeedback Therapy, with a Ph.D. in Psychology and Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Dr. Eustache helps her patients reach their full potential so they can live the life they have always dreamed.