Helpful Tips from Your Friends at Wesley Enhanced Living

Often, words that refer to similar events or topics are used interchangeably. For example, people across the country refer to carbonated beverages as soda, cola, or pop. This can happen in the world of medicine, too. People tend to use “Alzheimer’s” in place of “dementia” and vice versa. They are correct only half of the time. With November being National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, now is the opportunity to learn more.

When you understand the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s, you can help your loved one cope with either condition. If you are a patient, you can be more in control of your own well-being. At Wesley Enhanced Living, we strive to offer our residents the best in physical, mental, and social care, no matter the health concerns they may have. Our residents enjoy many opportunities to keep their minds and bodies sharp, and we can help you formulate a plan that minimizes the symptoms of your Alzheimer’s or dementia.

What Is Dementia?

Dementia is a term for various symptoms associated with brain cell damage. The term does not refer to a specific disease. Instead, it is a general term used to describe a variety of common symptoms, such as:

  • Impaired thinking skills
  • Memory decline
  • Problems communicating and speaking
  • Reduced ability to reason
  • Issues with visual perception

There are several different types of dementia, and many are a normal part of aging. Some forms of dementia may be reversed, as in the case of drug interaction or vitamin deficiency. The most common types of dementia include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease (more on this below)
  • Lewy body dementia occurs when abnormal clumps of protein form on the brain’s cortex (which deals with memory and learning)
  • Frontotemporal dementia occurs when a person loses nerve cells in the front and sides of their brain, causing personality and behavior changes
  • Vascular dementia occurs when there’s not enough blood getting to the brain
  • Parkinson’s disease develops in many people with Parkinson’s disease, resulting in a loss of cognitive ability
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease develops when a protein called prion folds into an odd shape, damaging other brain cells
  • Huntington’s disease is caused by an inherited gene that affects the central area of the brain, causing a decline in thinking, movement, and emotions
  • Mixed dementia is diagnosed when a person has more than one type of dementia

What Causes Dementia?

Dementia most commonly develops as people age. It occurs when nerve cells in the brain are damaged or lost, making it hard for the body to form neural connections that support cognitive functioning. There are a variety of reasons dementia may develop. However, people typically suffer from dementia due to:

  • Degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s or Huntington’s
  • Infections such as HIV
  • Vascular diseases
  • Stroke
  • Chronic drug use
  • Depression

What Is Alzheimer’s?

When discussing the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s, it’s important to note that Alzheimer’s disease is a specific type of dementia. This common form of dementia gets worse over time. In other words, it is irreversible. Alzheimer’s occurs when specific proteins called plaques and fibers called tangles build up in the brain. These plaques and tangles then block signals between your nerves and destroy the cells.

As the disease progresses, carrying on a conversation or handling everyday tasks can become challenging. A person with this disease may also experience depression, impaired judgment, confusion, and difficulty walking. While there is no cure, it is possible to take charge of your health and utilize treatments that may ease some symptoms or slow down their progression.

How Do Treatments Differ for Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s?

While there isn’t a cure for Alzheimer’s or dementia, a person facing one of these diagnoses can receive treatment to manage their symptoms. Treatment for dementia and Alzheimer’s often overlap, depending on the symptoms being targeted. Your doctor may prescribe:

  • Medication for memory loss
  • Medication for behavioral changes
  • Sleep medication
  • Medication for depression

If you are suffering from dementia due to tumors, metabolic disorders, or hypoglycemia, your doctor may be able to alleviate your symptoms by prescribing medications for those specific conditions. Whether you have dementia or Alzheimer’s, you could benefit from supportive services, such as professional care at a skilled nursing facility in Philadelphia.

Safeguard Your Health With Help From Wesley Enhanced Living

Now that you know the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s, it’s time to start caring for your health properly. Empower yourself to keep your mind sharp and body fit. The staff at Wesley Enhanced Living enables our residents to live life to the fullest. As one of the top skilled nursing and independent living facilities in Philadelphia, we offer many different options and services to meet your specific needs. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.

Wesley Enhanced Living provides high-quality senior retirement communities for you or your loved ones.  Contact one of our Philadelphia area locations and find out why our seniors love where they live. Our staff is happy to discuss your elder’s needs or your own, give you a tour and inform you of our range of services.