There are differences between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia although at times both seem similar. And in some irreversible dementia’s, if prompt treatment is provided, further damage can be stopped. However, whatever was lost cognitively can’t be restored again. In Alzheimer’s the disease is progressive. In it the brain shrinks first in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is important and plays a central role in memory function. So an Alzheimer’s patient has difficulty in recalling any information which is new. So what other differences are there?
When Alzheimer’s progresses memory loss occurs, and it can interrupt daily life. The person can forget how to get home if out for a walk or get lost driving. The person can find it difficult to solve problems, make decisions or make a good judgment call as cognitive reasoning declines. Also, there may be significant changes in personality, sometimes due to the fact that the person has a serous need and cannot express his or herself and can only lash out from the pain or from frustration. Or he or she may become hostile for no apparent reason or become increasing irritable even under the best of circumstances. Or a loved one becomes just become apathetic and does not want to do anything or go anywhere. Too, light and sounds will affect a patient with this affliction in ways that they wouldn’t with a person who does not suffer with the disease. Alzheimer’s disease is thus a serious and fatal disease. Within three to nine years after being diagnosed, death usually occurs.
The contributing factors of vascular dementia are hypertension and cardiovascular disease, stroke or diabetes. In the disease the accumulation of fatty deposits on artery walls can decrease the flow of blood in the brain and this creates areas of dead tissue caused by a series of tiny strokes. In it a small part of the brain is damaged but long term impairment isn’t caused. However, if the tiny strokes continue, then in larger areas of the brain dead brain tissue show up. This disease may cause symptoms of impaired thinking, slurred speech, confusion and paralysis. This occurs in a stair step pattern where the person suffers a decline in cognitive reasoning, and then it levels off until a new stroke will cause another decline.
Once a person starts down the road to dementia and Alzheimer’s, there isn’t any turning back. With the vascular dementia, if there aren’t any more tiny strokes then the person may stabilize and stay at the state he or she is at. However, with Alzheimer’s, the disease is progressive. There is medication for Alzheimer’s and if the Alzheimer’s is if diagnosed early, the medications will often slow the symptoms down.
If you have a loved one who has any of the symptoms that have been discussed here, get medical help as soon as possible. The sooner there is a diagnosis, the better off your loved one will be.
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