How Is Dementia Care Different From Alzheimer's Care?

Dementia is a broad word describing a loss of mental ability that interferes with daily activities. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's is a distinct illness. Dementia isn't like that. 

Understanding Alzheimer's and dementia care is one thing, but learning the words and the differences between them is crucial because it can provide patients with Alzheimer's disease or another dementia. This would also bring relief and support to their relatives and caregivers, with the right differentiated information.

Caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease or another kind of dementia is a long, demanding, and emotionally draining experience. More than 16 million people in the U.S. and many more across the world are caring for someone with dementia

Since there is presently no treatment for Alzheimer's or dementia, proper caregiving and support are typically the most important factors in improving your loved one's quality of life. Read on to know what makes care for Alzheimer’s and dementia different but necessary.

What To Know About Dementia Care

Dementia is a term used to describe a range of brain problems that make it difficult to recall things, think clearly, make decisions, or even manage emotions. Alzheimer's disease is one of these conditions, but dementia comes in numerous forms and causes.

This type of disease is more than basic memory lapses, such as forgetting someone's name or where you parked. At least two of the following are difficult for someone with dementia:

  • Memory
  • Speech and communication
  • Concentration and focus
  • Reasoning and decision-making
  • Visual perception (inability to distinguish between colors or detect movement, as well as seeing things that aren't there)

Symptoms Of Dementia

Memory loss is common in dementia, but it can be caused by a variety of factors. Memory loss isn't always a marker of dementia, however, it is generally one of the first symptoms.

Cognitive Changes

  • Memory loss, which is usually noticed by someone else
  • Difficulty communicating or finding words
  • Difficulty with visual and spatial abilities, such as getting lost while driving
  • Difficulty reasoning or problem-solving
  • Difficulty handling complex tasks
  • Difficulty with planning and organizing
  • Difficulty with coordination and motor functions
  • Confusion and disorientation

Psychological Changes

  • Personality changes
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Inappropriate behavior
  • Paranoia
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations

What To Know About Alzheimer’s Care

Alzheimer's disease is a degenerative brain illness caused by complex brain alterations that occur as a result of cell destruction. It causes dementia symptoms, which get worse with time. Since Alzheimer's affects the area of the brain linked with learning initially, the most common early symptom is difficulty remembering new information.

As Alzheimer's disease progresses, symptoms such as disorientation, confusion, and behavioral abnormalities become increasingly severe. Speaking, swallowing, and walking grow difficult with time.

Though rising age is the most well-known risk factor for Alzheimer's, the disease is not a natural component of aging. Although the majority of Alzheimer's patients are 65 and older, there are roughly 200,000 Americans under 65 who have the condition.

Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer's disease is a degenerative disease that worsens with time, and it mainly affects persons over the age of 65. There is currently no treatment available.

When proteins (known as plaques) and fibers (known as tangles) build up in your brain, they impede nerve signals and kill nerve cells. Memory loss may appear modest at first, but symptoms gradually worsen. 

  • Having difficulty recalling names, events, or conversations
  • Concentration issues
  • Changes in personality, such as a lack of concern for things you used to care about, suspicion of others, or hostility
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Impaired decision-making or judgment
  • Confusion

What To Do During The Early Stages Of Alzheimer’s Or Dementia

Your loved one may not require much caregiving assistance in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease or another type of dementia. Rather, your first task may be to assist them in accepting their diagnosis, making plans for the future, and being as active, healthy, and involved as possible.

Accept your prognosis. Family members may find accepting a dementia diagnosis just as tough as the sufferer. Allow time for you and your loved one to comprehend the news, adjust to the new situation, and mourn your losses. However, don't let your denial keep you from obtaining help.

Handle Conflicting Feelings

 In the early stages of Alzheimer's or dementia, both the patient and you, the caregiver, may experience feelings of anger, frustration, disbelief, grief, denial, and dread. Allow your loved one to vent their emotions and encourage them to pursue things that give their lives meaning and purpose. Find individuals you can confide in to help you deal with your own concerns, doubts, and grief.

Do The Research

On this journey, there are numerous community and internet tools to assist you in providing good care. Begin by locating your local Alzheimer's Association (see links below). These organizations provide carers and their families with practical support, helplines, advice, and training. They can also connect you with

Prepare Yourself For The Journey Ahead

In the early stages of dementia, your loved one may be able to keep their independence and live alone with your help. However, due to their cognitive and physical decline, they will eventually require round-the-clock assistance. 

Making planning for their future home and care now can lessen future stress, allow your loved one to participate in decision-making, and ensure that their legal, financial, and healthcare requests are honored.

Caring for loved ones suffering from dementia often receive treatment that are similar to Alzheimer’s. Treatment for dementia is determined on the specific cause and kind of dementia, but many dementia and Alzheimer's therapies overlap. They are primarily focused on treating symptoms and preventing dementia from worsening. 

Some dementia and Alzheimer's therapies are similar, some of which include:

  • Cholinesterase inhibitors can aid memory loss in dementia and Alzheimer's patients.
  • In both dementia and Alzheimer's, glutamate inhibitors aid learning and memory.
  • Sleep medicines may assist with sleep disruptions.
  • Antidepressants can help with the symptoms of depression.
  • Antipsychotic drugs may aid in behavior modification.

Talk to a healthcare practitioner if you or a loved one is having memory problems, trouble doing familiar tasks, or mood or personality changes. Acknowledging the symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer’s is the first step to finding treatment and proper care for the long run. 

To understand dementia care options or activities dementia patients can engage in, read through out blogs at Senior Strong.

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William Rivers is an editor with a master’s degree in Human Services Counseling at Maine State University. He has more than 20 years of experience working in the senior healthcare industry.
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