Signs Of Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s
It's common for people to use the terms dementia and Alzheimer's interchangeably. However, the two terms are not quite the same. In fact, there are many types of dementia, each presenting a bit differently and having unique challenges. If your loved one has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer's or another type of dementia, the more you can empower yourself with the correct information, the better you can advocate for your loved one's needs and anticipate what to expect in the future.
Dementia vs. Alzheimer's
When thinking about dementia vs. Alzheimer's disease, the first step is to realize that dementia is a broad term that encompasses a variety of unique diagnoses, including Alzheimer's disease. According to the Alzheimer's Association, dementia is a general term that describes "loss of memory, language, problem-solving and other thinking abilities" that affect daily life.
There are many different types of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, which is the most common and makes up about 70% of all dementia diagnoses. Other types of dementia include vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, and frontotemporal dementia, to name a few.
Early Signs of Alzheimer's vs. Early Signs of Dementia
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive type of dementia, which means it gets worse over time. Early signs of Alzheimer's disease can include:
- Bouts of confusion or getting lost in familiar places
- Irritability or personality changes
- Inability to keep up with household tasks
- Word finding difficulties
Other types of dementia, such as vascular dementia, can begin with a specific event, like a stroke. Early signs of dementia other than Alzheimer's can include:
- Confusion or getting lost
- Word finding difficulties
- Weight loss or gain
In all cases, daily life symptoms warrant a call to the doctor for follow-up and assessment.
Common Behaviors of Someone with Dementia vs. Common Behaviors of Someone with Alzheimer's
Common behaviors of someone with dementia are similar to those of someone with Alzheimer's. These behaviors can occur in different stages of the disease and can cause safety concerns and decrease quality of life without the proper support.
Wandering or walking without purpose or a destination
Wandering is typically a sign of agitation or confusion. It can lead to weight loss, increased fall risk, and potential safety concerns if the person leaves home without proper oversight.
Agitation or anxiety
Agitation and anxiety often go hand-in-hand with all types of dementia, typically worsening in the late afternoon or early evening hours.
People living with all types of dementia can find it challenging to make good decisions, including what clothing is seasonally appropriate and knowing when to turn off the oven.
Due to the inability to retain short-term information and the anxiety that comes with dementia, it is common for adults to ask the same questions over and over again. This can be frustrating for the family caregiver and the person living with dementia.
How to Talk to Someone with Dementia
When you love or care for someone with cognitive decline, it's essential to understand how to talk to someone with dementia. Here are a few tips for building your relationship and adding to their comfort and quality of life.
- Please resist the urge to tell them they forget, especially in the middle and late stages of the disease. Telling your mom that her sister died three years ago can be unsettling and unnecessarily upsetting to her, especially when she will forget this information a few minutes or hours from now.
- Validate their feelings and then redirect to an activity. For example, say, "It sounds like you're missing Aunt Sally, mom. I love when you talk about her. Come tell me your favorite stories while we look at your photo book."
- When the person is anxious, stick with easy activities that can be done repeatedly. Sort through photos, fold towels, or pair up socks.
How to Help Someone with Alzheimer's Disease
If your loved one has Alzheimer's disease or another type of dementia, safety and comfort is the primary concern. Family members often find it unrealistic and unhealthy to take on a full-time caregiving role. However, the person will soon need around-the-clock support as cognitive decline progresses. This is where senior living comes in.
Memory care communities are specialized residences designed to support people living with dementia and combat the challenges of the condition. Aside from personalized care, residents also enjoy a homelike and safe environment, events and activities within a daily routine, and nutritional support.
At Legend Senior Living, our memory care residences are extraordinary. Our team is trained in the best practices of dementia care, and we are committed to pursuing innovative therapies and approaches that can benefit our residents and their family members. Contact us today to schedule a tour of a community near you.