“Many people today ask about the difference between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia,” says Lonette Bentley, Executive Director of the newly-opened Clarity Pointe™ Pensacola in Pensacola, Florida.
“Their question is not at all surprising because the terms are frequently used interchangeably and often cause confusion. The simple answer is that Alzheimer’s disease is just one form of a group of related cognitive disorders known as dementia. Just as an apple is one type of fruit, Alzheimer’s is one type of dementia.
“More specifically, the term dementia refers to a broader category of physical and mental symptoms that include memory loss, impaired intellectual function and personality change. In addition to Alzheimer’s disease, there are several other disorders that fall under the umbrella term ‘dementia’.
“Memory care experts at the Alzheimer’s Association® and The Mayo Clinic tell us that these different types of dementia can result from disease or trauma to the brain and have a variety of root causes. One trait that all dementias have in common is that the changes they cause to the brain are not part of the normal aging process. These abnormal changes are also severe enough to affect daily living, independence and relationships.”
The Various Forms of Dementia
Although Alzheimer’s disease is the most common and well-known form of dementia, there are other types to be aware of that can also require memory care.
The Alzheimer’s Association article,“Types of Dementia,” and the DementiaGuide article“Different Types of Dementia” offer useful information on the various forms of dementia, their causes and treatment options.
Because each form of dementia is different, it is important to distinguish between them for purposes of memory care. Treatment can vary for each and early detection can be beneficial in slowing the progression of certain forms. Therefore, it is important to contact a doctor right away for an assessment when symptoms appear.
- Alzheimer’s Disease – As the most common type of dementia, Alzheimer’s accounts for an estimated 60 to 80 percent of all dementia cases. Difficulty remembering recent conversations, names or events is often an early clinical symptom; apathy and depression are also often early symptoms. Later symptoms include impaired communication, poor judgment, disorientation, confusion, behavior changes and difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking.
- Vascular Dementia – The second most common form next to Alzheimer's, this type of dementia is caused by poor blood flow to the brain, depriving brain cells of the nutrients and oxygen they need to function normally. Vascular dementia can be caused by any number of conditions that narrow the blood vessels, including stroke, diabetes and hypertension. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent and reduce its severity.
- Dementia with Lewy Bodies – This type of dementia, sometimes called Lewy Body Disease, is characterized by abnormal protein deposits called Lewy bodies that develop in nerve cells in the brain stem. This disrupts the brain's ability to function normally and impairs cognition and behavior. It is not reversible and there is no known cure.
- Frontotemporal Dementia – “Pick's disease” is the most common and recognized form of frontotemporal dementia. It is a rare disorder that causes damage to brain cells in the frontal and temporal lobes. This affects the individual's personality significantly, usually resulting in a decline in social skills, along with emotional apathy. Unlike other types of dementia, “Pick's disease” usually results in behavior and personality changes before memory loss and speech problems become evident.
- Mixed Dementia – This is a condition in which Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia occur simultaneously. The combination of the two types of dementia most commonly occurs in people of an advanced age with cardiovascular disease and dementia symptoms that get worse slowly over time.
- Parkinson's Disease Dementia – Parkinson's disease is a chronic, progressive neurological condition, which in its later stages can affect brain function and thinking. However, not everyone with Parkinson's disease will develop dementia. Symptoms include tremors, muscle stiffness and speech problems. Reasoning, memory, speech and judgment are also usually affected.
- Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) – Many types of dementia can be due to illness, medications and a host of other treatable causes. With mild cognitive impairment, an individual will experience memory loss, and sometimes impaired judgment and speech, but they are usually aware of their condition.
Advanced Memory Care for All Forms of Dementia
Anne adds, “At Clarity Pointe Pensacola, we are uniquely equipped to serve loved ones with all types of dementia. In addition to offering the latest advances in memory care therapy, we also provide an active and engaging lifestyle, the ideal living environment and a life filled with meaning and purpose with each new day.Our Heartfelt CONNECTIONS™ takes a positive, life-affirming approach to memory care, focusing on each resident’s continuing abilities and personal interests.”
Supporting At-Home Caregivers and Families with Information and Guidance
At Clarity PointePensacola, we recognize the many challenges memory care caregivers face, and we’re always here to help. In addition to providing exceptional memory care for loved ones with memory loss, we also offer a variety of resources for families to help them meet the challenges of caring for a loved one with memory loss while continuing to have meaningful interactions and relationships.
You can also view Clarity Pointe’s valuable memory care articles and tips for at-home caregivers that address a variety of helpful topics that you can put to use today.
Clarity Pointe … Our Difference is Clear
Clarity Pointe’s beautiful new Specialized Memory Care “Living” Neighborhoods are truly changing lives for those with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias – and for those who love them. At Clarity Pointe, our mission is to ensure our residents lead connected and rewarding lives.
Unlike other providers that offer a secure memory care wing in a skilled nursing or assisted living center, Clarity Pointe Pensacola offers three freestanding, purpose-built Memory Care communities that are solely and entirely dedicated to Memory Care Assisted Living. Our communities blend luxurious surroundings with specialized care that is individualized to each resident and delivered by a compassionate, expert team of professionals.
We stay current on the latest trends and advancements in memory care and implement them into our residents’ care plans. Always moving forward, we combine the latest in evidence-based programming with luxurious, residential living and compassionate respectful care.
For each of our memory care residents, we offer a life that is engaging, fulfilling, inspiring and meaningful.