The difference between dementia and Alzheimer's

What is Dementia?

Despite about 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, there is still confusion as to what dementia is; with most people believing it is an inevitable part of ageing.

Dementia is a broad term used to describe a group of symptoms which occur when parts of the brain stop working or are damaged by certain diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Typical symptoms include loss of memory, thinking or problem solving or difficulty with language. Dementia affects people differently depending on which disease caused it or which part of the brain has been affected.

Common Causes of Dementia

Alzheimer’s Disease

Accounting for about two thirds of cases in older people in the UK, Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common type of dementia. Due to it being the most common cause, it has become the most well-known. More people are now familiar with the term Alzheimer’s than they are with dementia; with some confusing the two as either the same or entirely separate conditions.

Alzheimer’s develops slowly over the years starting with symptoms such as mild forgetfulness. The symptoms vary from person to person, and they can often be very subtle sometimes overlapping with those of other illnesses. Forgetting names, faces, places, dates, time or getting lost are the common symptoms of Alzheimer’s. In some instances, the condition can also affect a person’s mood; they can become irritable, less interested or lose confidence.

Vascular Dementia

Vascular Dementia is the second most common cause of dementia; affecting about 150,000 people in the UK. It occurs when brain cells get starved of oxygen, due to reduced blood supply due to damaged or blocked blood vessels. As a consequence, when the cells die, this can cause problems with cognition (memory, thinking or reasoning). Major strokes or smaller strokes over time and Small Vessel Disease which occurs deep in the brain are the major risk factors of Vascular Dementia.

Mixed Dementia

There are times when some people get a mixture of symptoms as discussed above. It is possible for some people to have both Alzheimer’s and dementia with Lewy bodies or Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia. This accounts to about 10% of dementia cases. 

Frontotemporal dementia

The third most common type of dementia is Frontotemporal dementia which is caused by death or damage to cells in the front and side parts of the brain. It can affect a person’s personality and behaviour. Depending on the damage to the brain, one might forget the meaning of some words or have difficulty speaking fluently. 

Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB)

Dementia with Lewy bodies is believed to be the most under diagnosed as it shares some symptoms with other conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. It is caused by a presence of proteins called Lewy bodies in nerve cells (hence the name). These proteins have been linked to low levels of chemical messengers as well loss of connection to nerve cells. It is still not understood though how these proteins trigger dementia. Problems with movement and mental abilities are the main symptoms.

Aside from the above, there are other other causes which are triggered by other conditions such as HIV/AIDS, Huntington’s Disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Our Service at Bluebird Care Brent

As part of the homecare service we provide at Bluebird Care Brent, it is paramount that we have a good understanding of what dementia is, it’s causes or symptoms as well as how it can affect the people we care for. We know and believe that life doesn’t end with a dementia diagnosis. We regularly provide dementia training and updates to all of our care assistants; to ensure our customers get the right support at all times. We tailor our services to their exact needs and adapt their care plans accordingly so they continue to lead full and independent lives in the comfort of their own homes.

For more information about our service please visit our Dementia and Alzheimer’s Care Page  or give us a call on 020 8907 1514.

How to find the right care for you or your relative

1. Find your local office

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2. Get in touch with us

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3. Assessment

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4. Care team chosen & care starts

You'll be cared for by our specially trained team to support you to remain at home for as long as possible.

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