"What's the difference between dementia and Alzheimer's?"
We hear that all the time here at the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation. It’s a common question, and doctors can sometimes contribute to the confusion. It may be that physicians prefer to use the word “dementia” because the term Alzheimer’s can sound more overwhelming and frightening. But, the terms Alzheimer’s disease and dementia may mean two very different things.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke defines dementia as:
“… [A] word for a group of symptoms caused by disorders that affect the brain. It is not a specific disease. People with dementia may not be able to think well enough to do normal activities, such as getting dressed or eating. They may lose their ability to solve problems or control their emotions. Their personalities may change. They may become agitated or see things that are not there.”
Though Alzheimer’s disease is the most common, many different diseases can cause dementia. Drugs are available to treat some of these diseases.