Alzheimer’s vs. Dementia FAQ

What is the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease?

It’s common to confuse dementia and Alzheimer’s or even use the terms interchangeably. But they are two distinct diagnoses, each with their own treatment plan and prognosis.

Dementia is a general term for a group of memory disorders that can cause loss of memory, thinking abilities, language, problem-solving, and judgment skills.

Alzheimer’s is a specific medical disease and also a type of dementia. The disease worsens over time until memory loss, language, and cognition are so severe, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation or respond to the world around them. 

Contact us at 321.434.7612 for a free memory screening


What are normal memory changes? When should I be worried?

It is not uncommon to notice some memory changes as we age, especially once we are over the age of 60. But not every slip is a sign of Alzheimer’s disease. 


Alzheimer’s disease vs. typical aging

Possible signs of Alzheimer’s Common age-related slip
Poor judgment and decision-making skills Making a bad decision once in a while
Inability to manage finances Missing a monthly payment
Losing track of the date or time of year Forgetting what day it is and remembering later
Difficulty having a conversation Forgetting a word on occasion
Misplacing items and being unable to trace your steps back to find them Losing something every once in a while


What are other types of dementia besides Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of all dementia cases, but there are several other types of dementia.


Vascular dementia

This type of dementia sometimes appears after a stroke or brain injury. The location of the brain injury determines how thinking may be affected.

 Symptoms include: 

  • Impaired judgment
  • Inability to make plans
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation


Lewy body dementia

This type of dementia is caused by abnormal clusters containing the protein alpha-synuclein. Dementia occurs when these clusters, called Lewy bodies, develop in the cortex region of the brain.

Lewy body dementia shares several symptoms with both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. They include:

  • Sleep problems
  • Visual hallucinations
  • Rigid muscles or muscle movement similar to Parkinson’s disease
  • Changes in thinking or reasoning
  • Memory loss


Mixed dementia

Mixed dementia occurs when brain changes show multiple types of dementia at the same time, such as Alzheimer’s disease and vascular disease or Alzheimer’s and Lewy body dementia.


Parkinson’s disease dementia

Severe dementia may occur as Parkinson’s disease progresses from the part of the brain that controls movement to the part of the brain that controls memory and reasoning. Researchers have found that people with Parkinson’s disease dementia have abnormal deposits of Lewy bodies, likely making the two types of dementia linked. 

Symptoms include: 

  • Changes in memory and judgment
  • Muffled speech
  • Visual hallucinations
  • Delusions and paranoia
  • Depression, irritability and anxiety
  • Sleep disturbances


Frontotemporal dementia

Also known as FTD or frontotemporal degeneration, this condition is a group of disorders that includes primary progressive aphasia, Pick’s disease and progressive supranuclear palsy. It is caused by progressive nerve cell loss in the brain’s frontal or temporal lobes.

Symptoms include:

  • Changes in personality and behavior
  • Difficulty with language


Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

This rare disease is also among the more severe forms of dementia. It can be caused by a number of factors, including genetics or eating meat from cattle with mad cow disease. Unlike Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease progresses extremely fast.

Symptoms include:

  • Mood swings with agitation or apathy
  • Rapidly worsening confusion and disorientation
  • Memory loss
  • Decline in thinking, planning and judgment abilities
  • Trouble walking
  • Hallucinations and double vision
  • Muscle stiffness and involuntary twitching