An older man hugging his wife with a worried look on his face as he is dealing with dementia

Seeing a loved one lose their ability to live independently is always challenging. Whether they are struggling with memory loss or other thinking abilities, the transition can be a difficult one for both you and your family.

How you can help someone close to you with memory loss is always an important question to ask. And you may be wondering if dementia is any different than Alzheimer’s. Let’s explore what these two conditions are, and how they are related.

Memory care communities are specially designed to help people suffering from dementia. The responsibility of helping somebody with memory loss live a daily life can be overwhelming. Barton House is a focused Memory Care Center serving the Nashville area. 

If you’re looking for resources to help with your loved one’s cognitive challenges, please contact our team at Barton House for more information.

Understanding Dementia

Dementia is a general term used to describe a group of symptoms associated with cognitive decline that affects daily living. People with dementia can suffer from memory loss, a lack of problem-solving abilities, and communication challenges.

Because dementia does not refer to a specific disease, Is considered a syndrome characterized by a group of symptoms. There are many different types of dementia, Alzheimer’s being one of them. Unfortunately, the mental damage done by dementia is often permanent.

It’s important to know that dementia is not a natural part of the aging process. It occurs when brain cells have been damaged and thinking abilities suffer. Dementia impairs daily life and makes independent living very difficult.

A cartoon illustration of a senior couple with the husband showing a thought bubble of squiggly lines symbolizing the effects of memory loss

Symptoms of Dementia

Dementia can develop slowly with symptoms being subtle in the early stages. As dementia worsens, symptoms become more severe and they can interfere with normal daily routines. At the most advanced stages, dementia makes living alone nearly impossible.

Some of the symptoms of dementia include:

  • Short term memory loss
  • Long term memory loss 
  • Decreased focus & attention 
  • Poor decision-making & reasoning
  • Trouble speaking & communicating 
  • Inadequate personal hygiene
  • Radical changes in behavior

Causes of Dementia

The causes of dementia are numerous. Many conditions can lead to dementia as you age. Different types of dementia are related to different types of brain cell damage. Some causes of dementia include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Huntington’s disease
  • HIV and other infections 
  • Vascular disease
  • Stroke
  • Depression
  • Alcohol abuse

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s is a specific type of dementia and the most common one. Alzheimer’s accounts for 60-80% of all dementia, which is more than 5 million cases in the US alone. Memory, thinking, and behavior are all affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s is most common in people 65 and older.

Changes in the brain due to Alzheimer’s usually begin in the parts responsible for learning. That’s why memory loss and simple reasoning are some of the most obvious symptoms. Alzheimer’s currently has no cure and doesn’t worsen over time. But a recent treatment, Aduhelm, is showing promise in reducing cognitive decline.  

Alzheimer’s Symptoms

The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can overlap with general dementia symptoms. As Alzheimer’s progresses, symptoms typically get worse. Some of the symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s include:

  • Disorientation
  • Mood & behavior changes 
  • Confusion about time & place 
  • Suspicion of family, friends, & caregivers

People with more advanced Alzheimer’s may experience:

  • Difficulty speaking
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Trouble walking 

A Light in the Tunnel: Memory Care Communities

Alzheimer’s is a common type of dementia, but not all dementia is Alzheimer’s. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s may be similar to other forms of dementia. But dementia can be caused by many conditions.

When somebody you know is experiencing memory loss, it doesn’t matter whether they have Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. The priority is making sure they have the care and resources they need to live comfortably. And that’s where professional memory care comes in.

Memory care communities are designed specifically for people with memory loss issues. Both those with Alzheimer’s and those with other forms of dementia are welcome to the community at Barton House. Our living space is accessible for those with mobility issues and is always staffed with trained medical personnel.

If a person you love is struggling to function normally day to day, they might benefit from the comforts and community of memory care. Please contact our family to provide you with all the information you need and to help any way we can with a transition.