What is the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease?
Dementia is an acquired persistent cognitive impairment affecting memory, language, problem-solving, attention, perception or social functioning. Dementia is a broad category of which Alzheimer’s is a part. Alzheimer’s is due to abnormal accumulation of protein in the brain, usually affecting function after the age of 60-65. Vascular dementia is another type of dementia which is caused by small strokes or reduced blood flow to the brain. The cognitive changes in vascular dementia happen in sudden steps whereas Alzheimer’s disease is a gradual cognitive decline. There are several other forms of dementia that are less common. Sometimes dementia-like symptoms come and go. This is called delirium and may be due to a reversible medical cause, such as infection, electrolyte abnormalities or medication side effect.
Some things that are believed to reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia include physical activity, having the ability to form strong social connections, attaining higher education, as well as having good health in mid-life by controlling high blood pressure, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and vascular disease.