Receiving an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis can be troubling, but it’s also upsetting for family members and loved ones as well. That’s why it’s crucial to understand the distinct differences between the two. 

Knowing the differences between Alzheimer’s vs. dementia can help you and your family prepare for the upcoming months or years and also teach you how to adjust and cope. 

At Bluegrass Senior Living, our priority is creating a caring, nurturing, and high-quality community built on our Kentucky traditions and values.

We believe our commitment to ensuring our seniors live their best lives is what sets us apart from the average nursing home. We offer top-notch amenities, an educated and experienced staff, and plenty of programs. 

If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, now is the time to learn more. Read on to learn the differences between the two, all about memory care, and more. 

What is Alzheimer’s? 

Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that affects memory, thinking skills, and behavior. It is a type of dementia, and it is the most common form of dementia, but it is a more specific diagnosis than dementia. 

Alzheimer’s disease’s biggest risk factor is aging. It is more likely to affect those above the age of 65. The disease can also affect people in their 30’s or 40’s and is known as early-onset Alzheimer’s. 

Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. The disease is caused by neuron-destroying tangles and plaques in the brain. 

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, meaning it worsens over time. Early on in the disease, memory loss may be mild and far apart. You may notice the person forgetting things they just learned. 

As the disease progresses, the person diagnosed may lose their ability to function while doing simple tasks, having a conversation, or responding to their environment. 

You may also notice a change in mood and behavior. The person diagnosed may become suspicious of loved ones or confused regularly. 

Signs of Alzheimer’s can look like someone forgetting memories, people, or how to carry out simple tasks they have done many times before. 

Typically to determine whether someone has Alzheimer’s, a doctor uses the process of elimination. They will examine the patient’s symptoms and likely their mental test scores. They will also check for other forms of dementia first.

One tell-tale sign that a patient has Alzheimer’s is the factor of timing. The doctor will be looking for signs that the disease is worsening gradually. 

What is Dementia?

Like Alzheimer’s, dementia deals with memory loss happening over time, but dementia is a syndrome, not a disease.

A disease is a condition with a clear reason behind it, while a syndrome is several conditions without an identifiable source that causes it. 

Dementia causes a loss of mental function over time that is irreversible. While aging sometimes comes with small amounts of forgetfulness, this should not be mistaken for dementia. 

The early stage of dementia is called mild cognitive impairment and is described as forgetfulness beyond the normal amount that may come with aging.

Usually, during this stage of dementia, someone will still be able to do what they normally do, like go grocery shopping or do their taxes, but they may take longer to accomplish. 

When someone starts to require a lot of help to do these things, it may be a sign that dementia has worsened or settled in. These symptoms may take years to progress. 

To reach a diagnosis, a doctor will check the patient’s mental state concerning disorganization, mood changes, speech impairment, memory loss, personality changes, and disorientation. 

To be diagnosed with dementia, a patient must have a decline in at least two of those areas. Doctors will typically give the patient memory and thinking tests and ask about the patient’s history and mood changes. 

The doctor will probably ask the patient simple questions, such as whether they can recall how to calculate a money tip. 

How to Handle the Impact of Diagnosis

When you or a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, it can affect many people. While the person diagnosed is directly affected, family members and friends may wonder how to proceed afterward. 

First, it’s important to take care of your mental health. Receiving this diagnosis can come as a shock and you should give yourself the time and space to accept it. 

Next, if you’re still in the early stages of your diagnosis, you should learn about small changes you can make to keep your days easy.

If you know there are certain tasks or steps you forget throughout the day, do yourself a favor and leave sticky notes as reminders when possible. Ask for help from loved ones to come up with helpful notes for yourself. 

Family members and friends will likely need time to accept the diagnosis as well. They may also feel more at ease coming up with a plan for when symptoms are aggravated or progressing quickly. 

Some families may not have the time to help their loved ones as most people have full-time jobs, children, or other duties. In this case, it may be a good idea for everyone to look into assisted living options. 

At Bluegrass Senior Living, we specialize in creating a lovely environment for memory care residents. Our residents can enjoy privacy when they want it but also have all the benefits of assistance tailored to their needs. 

They will also enjoy family-style dining and activities in a safe environment where they can relax, worry-free.  

Learn About Alzheimer’s vs. Dementia and More

Now you know some of the key differences between Alzheimer’s vs. dementia. While a diagnosis of either one can feel overwhelming, learning more about them can be a helpful part of the coping process. 

At Bluegrass Senior Living, we work to give our memory care residents the full life they deserve. Contact us today to learn more about what we can offer those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia.