You will have heard the terms Dementia and Alzheimer’s used interchangeably but there is a distinction to be made between the two.
Alzheimer’s is a specific brain disease that accounts for around 60-80% of all dementia cases globally. Dementia, on the other hand, is an umbrella term used to describe the symptoms of cognitive decline.
Put simply, Alzheimer’s is a specific disease and dementia is not.
What is Dementia?
Dementia is a term used to describe a wide range of progressive neurological disorders, one of which is Alzheimer’s disease.
The disorders defined by this term are caused by abnormal brain changes that result in symptoms such as a deterioration of cognitive ability, memories, thinking and behaviours.
Whilst Alzheimer’s accounts for the majority of dementia cases, there are in fact 200 subtypes of dementia.
The most common types of dementia are Alzheimer’s disease (which contributes to 60-70% of cases), Vascular Dementia, Lewy Body Dementia, Frontotemporal Dementia, Young Onset Dementia and Mixed Dementia.
According to the latest study carried out by The Alzheimer’s Society in November 2019, there are now over 920,000 people in the UK alone living with some type of dementia.
By 2024, this figure is expected to have risen to over a million, but the UK is not alone as countries globally see a year-on-year increase in dementia cases.
Among the 885,000 people with dementia in the UK, 127,000 have mild dementia, 246,000 have moderate dementia and 511,000 have severe dementia.
As is to be expected, 885,000 of this total are over the age of 65 with the remaining 40,000 suffering from young onset dementia.
For more information about demential, check this article on dementia.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
As mentioned, Alzheimer’s disease is a specific type of dementia that occurs as a result of complex brain changes following damage to brain cells from two proteins called amyloid and tau.
Those with Alzheimer’s may have a reduction of the chemical acetylcholine which functions as a chemical messenger to take information to and from brain cells.
As such, a reduction in this chemical leads to information not being transmitted effectively.
Over time this leads to dementia symptoms worsening with the most common early signs of Alzheimer’s being an inability to remember new information as the correlating area of the brain is damaged.
As Alzheimer’s disease progresses the symptoms will gradually increase in severity with the individual suffering from confusion, disorientation and even behaviour changes.
Eventually, everyday functions and tasks such as walking, conversing and even swallowing will become more difficult.
One of the biggest misconceptions of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia is that it is a natural and inevitable part of ageing.
Though age is a risk factor, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are not a natural part of ageing as is evidenced by the hundreds of thousands of people under the age of 65 suffering with young onset dementia in the UK.
How We Can Help
At Abafield’s Home Care we are proud to offer our dementia care services to support dementia sufferers and their families through what can be an incredibly distressing period.
Our bespoke dementia care services enable individuals to continue living their lives with a sense of independence and familiarity in the comfort of their home.
Our home care specialist team is dedicated to assisting families in Greater Manchester that are looking to increase support for their loved ones in a way that is beneficial to all involved.
For more information about any of our Dementia Home Care services, or to discuss your
requirements in more detail, please give our friendly team a call on 0161 804 5060.