Loss of short-term memory. Challenges with language. Impaired thinking.
If these sound like symptoms of Alzheimer’s, you might be right—but not necessarily so.
They’re symptoms of dementia, and Alzheimer’s is only one type of dementia. Alzheimer’s accounts for 60-70 percent of dementia cases, according to Mayo Clinic, but other related disorders include Parkinson’s disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, frontotemporal dementia and vascular dementia.
Using the terms interchangeably, then, can cause confusion for patients, families and caregivers. It can also be misleading; in some cases, dementia can be reversed, especially if caused by, for example, drug interaction or vitamin deficiency. Alzheimer’s disease, on the other hand, has no known cure. An estimated 5.3 million Americans have Alzheimer’s, and according to the Alzheimer’s Association, it’s the only top 10 cause of death in the country that cannot be prevented, cured or slowed.
Because Alzheimer’s primarily strikes older adults—of the 5.3 million Americans with the disease, 5.1 million are age 65 and older—the picture doesn’t stand to improve. With the country’s aging population, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, 7.1 million people age 65 and older will have the disease by 2025. By 2050, without medical breakthrough, that number may reach 13.8 million.
Haven Behavioral Healthcare offers numerous services to help patients and families dealing with Alzheimer’s and/or dementia. In addition to Reminiscence and Sensory Stimulation therapies, aimed at improving memory and reducing anxiety, several Haven facilities provide Virtual Dementia Training. That training helps caregivers and others understand what it’s like to attempt everyday tasks while enduring symptoms.
In addition to challenges with memory, language and thinking, Alzheimer’s can include:
- difficulty completing familiar tasks;
- confusion with time or place;
- changes in mood and/or personality; and more.
If you or someone you love is exhibiting signs or symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, please schedule a healthcare assessment. There may be no cure—yet—but much can be done to slow the process and improve quality of life.