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Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

DIAGNOSIS

What are Alzheimer's and Dementia?

Alzheimer's Disease is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.

Understanding Alzheimer's and Dementia

The terms “dementia” and “Alzheimer’s disease” can be confusing. Many people believe they are synonymous, but the two words mean different things.

Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia. Alzheimer’s is a specific disease. Dementia is not.

Learning about the two terms and the difference between them is important and can empower individuals with Alzheimer’s or another dementia, their families and their caregivers with necessary knowledge.

Dementia describes a group of symptoms associated with a decline in memory, reasoning or other thinking skills. Many different types of dementia exist, and many conditions cause it. Alzheimer's disease accounts for 60 percent to 80 percent of dementia cases. Dementia is not a normal part of aging. It is caused by damage to brain cells that affects their ability to communicate, which can affect thinking, behavior and feelings.

Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease that is caused by complex brain changes following cell damage. It leads to dementia symptoms that gradually worsen over time. The most common early symptom of Alzheimer’s is trouble remembering new information because the disease typically impacts the part of the brain associated with learning first.

What can you do at home for Alzheimer's and Dementia?

  1. Bake or cook simple recipes together.
  2. Clean around the house.
  3. Do arts and crafts, such as knitting and painting.
  4. Look at books the person used to enjoy.
  5. Organize household or office items, particularly if the person used to take pleasure in organizational tasks.

How can we help our clients with Alzheimer's and Dementia?

  1. Keep things simple.
  2. Have a daily routine, so the person knows when certain things will happen.
  3. Reassure the person that he or she is safe, and you are there to help.
  4. Focus on his or her feelings rather than words. ...
  5. Don't argue or try to reason with the person.
  6. Try not to show your frustration or anger.

As the person moves through the stages of Alzheimer's, he or she will need more care. One reason is that medicines used to treat Alzheimer's disease can only control symptoms; they cannot cure the disease. Symptoms, such as memory loss and confusion, will get worse over time.

A home health aide can help individuals with activities of daily living; such as taking a bath, getting dressed, preparing a meal, getting support in ambulating throughout the home or getting to the toilet.

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