One of the biggest question we often get asked is what is the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s?
Let’s look at what the word dementia actually means. If we break it down into its root form, DE= to do without, and MENTIA=mentation, or our mind. So together we get the essential meaning of dementia, or a reduction of mentation.
When we say someone has Dementia, we are using one word to refer to symptoms and that someone is displays one or more symptoms of cognitive decline. The brain controls many many functions of our daily life, so you can imagine all of the ways in which it can falter. When the brain starts to deteriorate cognitively, you start to see symptoms on all those different areas and it will look different from one person to the next.
This is due to the fact that dementia is a very general, catch all term. When we say someone has dementia, we are not saying what is causing it. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for about 70% of dementia cases. Other types of dementia include Lewy-Body dementia, vascular dementia, and frontal-temporal dementia and many others.
Many people live with Alzheimer’s pathology on their brain for 10-20 years before symptoms even show up. That is why at the Maryland Center for Brain Health, we recommend you start to take charge of your brain health as early as possible and learn what you can do to ensure you have a healthy tomorrow.