"Alzheimer's disease" and "dementia" are related but distinct terms that are often used interchangeably, leading to confusion.
Dementia is an umbrella term that refers to a set of cognitive symptoms such as memory loss, impaired thinking, and changes in behavior that interfere with a person's ability to function independently. Dementia is not a specific disease but rather a general term for a range of cognitive impairments. It can be caused by various underlying conditions, with Alzheimer's disease being one of the most common causes. Other causes of dementia include vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and more. Dementia is characterized by a decline in cognitive function that affects daily activities and quality of life.
Alzheimer's disease is a specific and progressive brain disorder that falls under the category of dementia. It is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for a significant portion of dementia cases. Alzheimer's disease is characterized by the accumulation of abnormal protein deposits, including beta-amyloid plaques and tau tangles, in the brain. These deposits lead to the death of brain cells and the gradual deterioration of cognitive function. Memory loss is often an early and prominent symptom of Alzheimer's disease, but it eventually affects various aspects of cognition and behavior. It typically progresses over several years, leading to severe impairment.
Dementia is a broad term used to describe a range of cognitive impairments, while Alzheimer's disease is a specific type of dementia with its own distinct pathological features and progression. Alzheimer's disease is just one of many possible causes of dementia. When someone is diagnosed with dementia, healthcare professionals often seek to identify the underlying cause, which could be Alzheimer's disease or another condition, to provide appropriate care and treatment.
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