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What is the Difference Between Alzheimer’s and Dementia?

The term dementia is not a disease. "Dementia" is an umbrella term for disorders where the mental functions break down -- where there is confusion, disorientation, and memory loss. There may also be trouble with language or with completing tasks. There are many cause of dementia.

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a progressive degenerative disorder that results in impaired thinking, memory, and behavior. It is characterized by a distinctive pattern of "plaques and tangles in the brain." Plaques are patches of amyloid protein that are thought to clump together and cause nerve cells to die. Alzheimer's is the most common cause of dementia. 

Currently there are more than 5 million people in the United States with Alzheimer's disease. It affects 10 percent of people over 65, up to 50 percent of people over 85.

Some other causes of dementia include:

If your loved one is told they have dementia, it is important to know what is causing the dementia so your doctor can monitor the progression and provide the appropriate treatment. Some causes of dementia are reversible so it is extremely beneficial to get a thorough evaluation as early as possible.

Courtesy of USF Health Byrd Alzheimer's Institute