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Dementia and Alzheimer’s: What is the Difference?

Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju
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Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju

Many people mistakenly confuse dementia and Alzheimer’s, thinking they are the same thing but are not.  Among the main differences between these conditions, experts note that, unlike dementia, in Alzheimer’s disease, symptoms begin slowly and develop gradually, memory loss is the main consequence of this disease, and the life expectancy of a patient with this disease is higher. The word “dementia” is used to describe a group of symptoms that can have many causes. The symptoms of dementia are mainly memory loss and problems with routine activities and communication with others.

Both of these problems most often occur in patients over 65, but they can occur at any age. Although the symptoms of these conditions can coincide, it is necessary to be able to distinguish between these conditions.

In this article, we will look at the description of these two problems, consider their causes and symptoms, and also find out if there is a difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

What is Dementia?

Dementia is not a disease. This is one of the reasons why Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are not the same. Dementia is a syndrome, a set of symptoms with no specific diagnosis. Dementia most often occurs in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia harms many cognitive functions such as memory and thinking.

What is Dementia

Dementia comes in many types; some patients may have more than one type of dementia. Unfortunately, dementia has the property of progression; if this occurs, the patient’s condition may worsen and lead to disability. In addition, according to statistics, dementia ranks fifth on the list of diseases that cause death in humans.

What are the Types of Dementia?

One of the reasons why Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are not the same conditions is the existence of different types of them. 

As we have said, there are different types of dementia. Let’s look at the types of this syndrome in more detail.

  • Vascular Dementia

This type of dementia usually occurs due to blockage of blood flow to a person’s brain and may be associated with strokes or plaque in the arteries. Symptoms of the disease can begin slowly and quite suddenly.

  • Dementia with Lewy Bodies

This dementia is a progressive disease. It can be caused by protein deposition in the nerves, disrupting electrical signals. Symptoms of this type of dementia include changes in thinking, confusion, and movement disorders.

  • Dementia Associated with Parkinson’s Disease

This dementia causes deterioration in cognitive abilities and we have to say that Alzheimer’s disease also has this problem, so it can be the same thing between them. This syndrome often occurs in people with Parkinson’s disease about a year or more after being diagnosed. Analyzing statistics, 50-80% of people with Parkinson’s disease suffer from dementia ten years after diagnosis. 

  • Frontotemporal Dementia

This syndrome is characterized by brain dysfunction in the area of ​​the brain near the forehead or behind the ears. The Alzheimer’s Association suggests that behavioral changes are often among the first symptoms of frontotemporal dementia.

  • Posterior Cortical Atrophy

It is the deterioration of the outer layer of the patient’s brain, which is called the cortex and is located at the back of the brain. Symptoms of this type of dementia can vary but usually involve difficulty with visual tasks such as reading or seeing moving objects.

  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

It is a relatively rare infectious disease. This disease causes a rapidly progressive dementia that begins with symptoms such as problems with muscle coordination, personality changes, and visual disturbances.

  • Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

This syndrome occurs against the background of a lack of vitamin B1 in the body. One of the most common causes of this syndrome is alcoholism. Among the symptoms of this syndrome, experts note double vision, confusion, drooping of the upper eyelids, and loss of muscle coordination. The presence of such symptoms once again confirms that Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are not the same conditions.

  • Mixed Dementia

This type of dementia means that the patient has several types of dementia.

  • Normal-pressure Hydrocephalus

This syndrome occurs due to the accumulation of fluid in the ventricles of the patient’s brain. Among the consequences of the appearance of this syndrome, one can note an impairment of consciousness and difficulties associated with the movement and control of the bladder. The exact cause of this condition is not known, but suspected causes include head injuries, infections, cerebral hemorrhages, and previous surgeries.

Symptoms of Dementia

Symptoms of dementia

When we talk about what the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is, we should say that these conditions have different symptoms. For example, dementia can be accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • Memory loss;
  • Difficulty with verbal expression;
  • Personality changes;
  • Hallucinations;
  • Poor orientation in space and time;
  • Frequent forgetfulness;
  • Lack of necessary hygiene;
  • Depression;
  • Aggression.

Causes of Dementia

Experts note the following reasons why dementia can occur:

  • Chronic drug use;
  • Stroke;
  • Vascular disease;
  • Infections such as HIV;
  • Vascular diseases;
  • Head trauma;
  • Depression.

How to prevent or slow down Dementia with diet and brain foods find out from our article.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

We have told you there is a difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and that these conditions are not the same. But to finally show you the difference between them, we should consider Alzheimer’s disease in more detail.

Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that tends to progress and progressively impair memory and cognitive function. The specific cause of the disease is still unknown, and there is no cure for this disease. Alzheimer’s disease usually affects people over 65, but sometimes younger people get the disease.

What is alzheimers disease

How Alzheimer’s Disease Affects the Brain

Another factor that confirms that dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are not the same thing is the effect of the condition on the brain. Let’s consider how Alzheimer’s disease affects the brain.

In people who have Alzheimer’s disease, brain cells gradually die off, and the connections between the remaining cells are significantly destroyed.

  • One of the main symptoms is the accumulation of plaques – abnormal protein deposits that appear in the brain. These protein deposits look like dense protein clusters. They can block communication between neurons. Proteins twisting together are called tangles and cause healthy brain cells to begin to die.
  • The brain begins to contract strongly in a person with Alzheimer’s. The development of the disorder in the brain can occur over decades.
  • The only way to confirm the presence of the disease is to examine the patient’s brain under a microscope. However, doctors have learned to correctly diagnose this in 90% of cases with regards to this disease.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease 

Symptoms of Alzheimers Disease

Actually, symptoms of Alzheimer‘s disease and dementia are also not the same.

Alzheimer’s may include symptoms such as:

  • Mood changes;
  • Depression;
  • Confusion;
  • Concentrating difficulty;
  • Apathy;
  • Impaired judgment;
  • Disorientation;
  • Behavioral changes;
  • Problems with speech;
  • Difficulty swallowing;
  • Violation of movement coordination.

Causes of  Alzheimer’s 

  • Genetic predisposition;
  • Diabetes;
  • Chronic hypertension;
  • High cholesterol;
  • Traumatic brain injury.

Alzheimer’s vs. Dementia: Comparison Table 

We have prepared a comparative table in which we have seen what the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is so that our readers can better understand the main differences between these conditions.

Alzheimer’s Dementia
It is a disease It is a syndrome (complex of symptoms)
Has no official causes Has specific causes
The absence of symptoms that include an increase in muscle tone and sleep disturbance, at least at an early stage of this disease  Symptoms of this syndrome include an increase in muscle tone and insomnia
This disease primarily affects short-term memory This syndrome has speech disorders, emotional disorders, and difficulties in planning and solving problems 
It develops rather slowly – the process of disease development can take several years The deterioration comes suddenly and more abruptly
Probable causes can be connected with a hereditary predisposition and neurological diseases The causes of the appearance are vascular pathologies
Memory loss is gradual Memory loss occurs suddenly and can rapidly develop quite quickly and jerkily (it’s one of the main reason why Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are not the same things)
Life expectancy is longer The life expectancy of a patient with this syndrome may be lower
Women are more likely to suffer from this  disease Men are more likely to suffer from dementia

So, you can see what the main differences between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are. Doctors say that not every dementia is associated with Alzheimer’s disease, but every Alzheimer’s disease ends in dementia. 

Regarding such a question as “Which is worse, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease?, we should say that these two conditions are hazardous for the patient. But as a rule, dementia is a more complex problem because it can happen unexpectedly out of the blue. The patient’s condition can be severe immediately, and the syndrome’s symptoms can worsen quickly. Also, as you can see from the table, dementia patients live much shorter lives.

Book a Consultation at Lone Star Neurology 

We have explained to you why dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are not the same things. These conditions can have different causes, symptoms, and effects. Both conditions are life-threatening for the patient and require immediate medical attention. If your loved one has Alzheimer’s, you should take them to the doctor. 

Our experienced and highly qualified specialists help diagnose and treat many neurological diseases using modern equipment. To make an appointment with our specialists, call us at (214) 619-1910.

We treat various neurological disorders such as:

This is not a complete list of the disorders we can help with; our specialists deal with many diseases. Go to our website to read more about our clinic. Check out our blog with many helpful articles about different diseases, their diagnosis, and treatment.


  • Can Alzheimer’s disease be cured?

Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. But there are medicines with which you can improve the patient’s condition. Timely consultation with a specialist and the use of prescribed drugs can make life easier for the patient and slow down the course of the disease.

  • What does Alzheimer’s do to a person?

As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, patients begin experiencing significant memory loss and other cognitive difficulties. Problems may also include the patient getting lost on the street, becoming incapable of coping with household chores, becoming distracted, repeating the same information constantly, and having personality and behavioral changes.

  • How can dementia be prevented?

Currently, science has not found a way to prevent the onset of dementia, as the exact cause of its occurrence is unknown. However, there is evidence that a healthy lifestyle can help reduce the risk of dementia later in life.

  • How does a person get dementia?

Dementia happens to a patient due to damage or loss of nerve cells and their connections in the brain. Depending on the damaged area of the brain, dementia affects people differently and may include different symptoms.

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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
Steve Nabavi
Steve Nabavi
16:28 16 Mar 22
It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any more
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis
16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
Joshua Martinez
Joshua Martinez
16:02 10 Dec 21
I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going more
Isabel Ivy
Isabel Ivy
21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my more
Leslie Luce
Leslie Luce
17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to more
robert Parker
robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his more
Roger Arguello
Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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