Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s Disease: Know the Difference

While dementia and Alzheimer’s disease share many of the same characteristics, they are not one and the same. In fact, dementia isn’t actually a disease, but rather a collection of symptoms that affect the brain causing challenges with communication and the ability to perform tasks. Alzheimer’s, on the other hand, is a progressive disease that impairs the brain and its function over time. It is a form of dementia that affects memory and language in particular.


According to, dementia is diagnosed by doctors as a set of symptoms, similar to the way they would address a sore throat or an upset stomach. The goal is to understand what is causing the symptoms, and then address how to treat the cause. Dementia, if caused by a drug interaction or vitamin deficiency, for example, may be treatable.

Because dementia is usually a series of symptoms, it is critical that you or your loved one enlist the help of a doctor or medical expert who can perform testing and recommend the best course of action. Some of the signs of possible dementia include forgetfulness, confusion in the evening hours, and the inability to speak or understand speech.

Other symptoms include:

  • Cognitive: memory loss, mental decline, confusion in the evening hours, disorientation, inability to speak or understand, making things up, mental confusion, or inability to recognize common things
  • Behavioral:irritability, personality changes, restlessness, lack of restraint, or wandering and getting lost
  • Mood: anxiety, loneliness, mood swings, or nervousness
  • Psychological: depression, hallucination, or paranoia
  • Muscular: inability to combine muscle movements or unsteady walking

Source: Mayo Clinic

Alzheimer’s Disease

It’s estimated that between 50 and 70 percent of those with dementia have Alzheimer’s disease. In order to accurately diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, your doctor will perform a variety of tests including blood tests, brain scans and psychological exams. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s include:

  • Cognitive: mental decline, difficulty thinking and understanding, confusion in the evening hours, delusion, disorientation, forgetfulness, making things up, mental confusion, difficulty concentrating, inability to create new memories, inability to do simple math, or inability to recognize common things
  • Behavioral: aggression, agitation, difficulty with self care, irritability, meaningless repetition of own words, personality changes, lack of restraint, or wandering and getting lost
  • Mood: anger, apathy, general discontent, loneliness, or mood swings
  • Psychological: depression, hallucination, or paranoia
  • Whole body: loss of appetite or restlessness
  • Also common: inability to combine muscle movements or jumbled speech

Source: Mayo Clinic

If you or your loved one are experiencing any of the above symptoms, reach out to your doctor immediately. The sooner a diagnosis is made, the sooner you can get back to living your most healthy, vibrant life!