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Alzheimer’s vs. Dementia

an elderly person sits on a couch possibly pondering the difference between alzheimer's vs dementia

One of the biggest fears facing seniors and their families is the onset of dementia. Unfortunately, dementia research supports this fear. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), one in seven Americans aged 71 and older has some form of dementia. Of these, 2.4 million have Alzheimer’s disease. As the baby boomer population ages, these figures will likely rise dramatically.

At Buckner Villas, we know that most families cannot provide the care needed to manage the health and safety of family members with dementia. Memory care for seniors in Austin, Texas provides the support necessary to help those with dementia, including Alzheimer’s, in a safe, secure environment.

At Buckner Villas, our mission is to provide all our residents with a meaningful life, regardless of cognitive ability. Our expert team of caring professionals is here to help families navigate the complexities of choosing care for a loved one with dementia. Contact us at 512.580.9882 to learn more about The Harbor, our certified memory care program.

Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s

There is a common misconception that dementia and Alzheimer’s are the same, so the terms are often interchanged. However, this is untrue. Dementia is not a specific disease, while Alzheimer’s is. Symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s can overlap, contributing to the confusion. Understanding the differences between dementia and Alzheimer’s is critical for proper management and treatment and can empower individuals, families, and caregivers with the knowledge to make informed decisions.

Also contrary to popular belief is the notion that dementia is a normal part of aging. While it is true that the risk of developing dementia, including Alzheimer’s, increases with age, they are significantly different than age-related memory loss.

What Is Dementia?

Dementia is a syndrome, not a disease. In other words, dementia is an umbrella term to describe a wide range of symptoms that progressively inhibit an individual’s ability to perform everyday activities independently. There are multiple types of dementia, and individuals can have more than one, referred to as mixed dementia.

Dementia stems from damage to brain cells that interferes with proper brain functioning, which impacts a person’s thinking, feelings, and behavior. Early symptoms of dementia, including occasional forgetfulness and losing track of time, are mild and can be easy to overlook.

Progressive and advanced symptoms of dementia can include:

  • Frequent forgetfulness and repetitive questioning
  • Increased confusion
  • Poor judgment and reasoning skills
  • Changes in behavior
  • Poor hygiene and inability to perform self-care
  • Difficulty remembering familiar people and places
  • Trouble with time
  • Depression and aggression

Recognizing the early signs of dementia can provide insight for medical providers and lead to a faster and more accurate diagnosis. Dementia impacts everyone differently, including how quickly it progresses. Early detection is important because some cases can be treated.

What Is Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. It is a degenerative brain disease caused by complex brain changes resulting from brain cell damage. Alzheimer’s leads to dementia symptoms that worsen over time. In people with Alzheimer’s, brain cells die, and connections between cells break down, causing abnormal protein deposits called plaques and tangles. These protein deposits are a significant factor in diagnosing Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s first affects the part of the brain associated with learning, so early symptoms typically include changes in memory, thinking, and reasoning skills. Other symptoms of Alzheimer’s include:

  • Difficulty remembering recent events
  • Difficulty remembering conversations
  • Impaired judgment
  • Disorientation and confusion
  • Apathy
  • Depression
  • Behavior changes

In the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, individuals may have difficulty speaking, swallowing, and walking. Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, but many options exist to help manage symptoms.

Choose Buckner Villas for Memory Care for Seniors in Austin, Texas

Watching an elderly parent or other loved one suffer from dementia, including Alzheimer’s, is distressing. The Buckner Villas staff comprises compassionate licensed caregivers specializing in memory care. Here, you or a loved one can progress from the least invasive treatment to the highest level of care, as needed.

At Buckner Villas, we strive to encourage the highest level of independence for all residents, including those in The Harbor, our memory care center. Reach out to us at 512.580.9882 to discover all of the benefits of memory care for seniors in Austin, Texas.