The Alzheimer's Association distinguishes Dementia vs Alzheimers in the following ways:
Dementia is defined as the global, progressive deterioration of memory, language, thought, behavior and personality/mood. All or only a combination of these symptoms need to be present for a doctor to diagnose someone as having dementia.
Under the umbrella of dementia are specific types of dementia like Reversible Dementia, Vascular Dementia, Frontal-temporal Dementia and some "diseases" as well.
Alzheimer's Disease, along with Lewy Body Disease, are the two "diseases" that are included under the general label of dementia. Alzheimer's disease is estimated
to account for over half of all dementia, or 60-65%. Reversible dementia accounts for 10% (2011 statistics) and that leaves 25-30% for the rest of the subcategories in dementia.
As you can see, the relationship of dementia vs Alzheimers is not one of
opposition since Alzheimer's disease is a type of dementia. If someone has
Alzheimer's, they also have dementia, but not because they are different illnesses. If they have been diagnosed with dementia they could also be given a more specific diagnosis that would be a particular type of dementia or disease, like Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer's Disease results in a gradual deterioration over time of their cognitive function which is basically the thinking, reasoning, remembering, and perceiving processes of the conceptual mind. Because of the gradual deterioration, Alzheimers stages have been designated to refer to the amount of memory loss and function during the disease process.
Don't confuse Alzheimer's with senility. Senility refers to the "normal" forgetting and changes in personality after the age of 65 due to the aging process. Therefore, senile dementia, is dementia that begins after the age of 65 due to aging.
The Alzheimers disease brain shows two main changes:
1. A build up of plaque made of Amyloid, a protein, in the brain cells. It's as if the brain is cleaning out toxic protein and dumping it there.
2. Inside the brain cell, or neuron, the Tau Protein has changed form and begins to resemble a "tangle" of fibers. The brain cells act like railroad tracks that allow messages and nutrients to be transmitted. But the Tau protein changes form and, you could say, distorts the railroad track by lifting the railroad ties up.
This blocks the nutrients and communication
transmissions and stops the train. These changes are happening years before
Alzheimer's symptoms are noticeable.
(Note: the above information was taken from the 2011 Northern California Alzheimer's Association Educational Conference.)
My mother, Maria, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's at age 82. Click here to read her story at the bottom on the page. At that time it was believed that there was a link between aluminum and Alzheimer's. This was due to findings that the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease contained higher than normal levels of aluminum.
"Only later was it recognized that the presence of this metal in the brain was a consequence of the degenerative process, not the cause of it." (When the Body Says No, Exploring the Stress-disease Connection by Gabor Mate, M.D.). The aluminum Alzheimer's disease connection has been debunked.
We all want to know what are the causes of Alzheimer's disease. Unfortunately research has come up empty handed.
But if you know of someone with Alzheimer's disease and would like to share their story click here. My hope is that together we can find clues to solving this mystery by looking at the mental-emotional and spiritual levels of their life perspective and experiences.