Understanding the Distinction Between Dementia and Alzheimer’s 

28 Apr 2023 | Alzheimers, Dementia Care

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are two terms often used interchangeably, but they are not exactly the same. While they share similarities, they are distinct conditions with different causes, symptoms, and treatments. This blog post will explore the differences between dementia and Alzheimer’s, shedding light on these often misunderstood conditions.

What is Dementia?

Dementia is not a specific disease but rather a broad term that refers to a decline in cognitive ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. A loss of memory, reasoning, judgment, language, and other cognitive functions characterises it. Dementia is caused by damage to brain cells, which disrupts the brain’s normal functioning. There are many types of dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease being the most common type.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a specific type of dementia, accounting for 60-80% of all dementia cases. It is a progressive brain disorder that affects memory, thinking, and behaviour. Alzheimer’s disease is characterised by the accumulation of abnormal protein deposits in the brain, which disrupts communication between brain cells and leads to their death. Over time, the brain shrinks, and the symptoms of Alzheimer’s become more severe, eventually leading to the inability to carry out essential daily activities.

Differences between Dementia and Alzheimer’s

Although dementia and Alzheimer’s share similarities, there are key differences between the two conditions:


Dementia can be caused by various factors, such as Alzheimer’s disease, vascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, and others. On the other hand, Alzheimer’s disease is a specific cause of dementia and accounts for the majority of dementia cases.


While both dementia and Alzheimer’s may cause memory loss, Alzheimer’s tends to affect memory as one of the earliest and most prominent symptoms. In contrast, other types of dementia may present with different symptoms, such as changes in behaviour, personality, or language skills.


Dementia can progress at different rates depending on the underlying cause. Alzheimer’s disease typically progresses slowly over several years, while other types of dementia may progress more rapidly or have a fluctuating course.


There is currently no cure for dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. However, some treatments may help manage symptoms and slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, such as cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine. Treatment approaches for dementia largely depend on the underlying cause and may include addressing related health conditions, providing supportive care, and managing symptoms.


Diagnosing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease requires a thorough evaluation by a healthcare professional, including a medical history, physical examination, cognitive assessments, and imaging tests. Accurate diagnosis is crucial for developing an appropriate treatment plan and supporting individuals and their families.

In conclusion, while dementia and Alzheimer’s disease share similarities, they are different. Dementia is a broad term that encompasses a range of conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common type of dementia. Understanding the differences between dementia and Alzheimer’s is essential for accurate diagnosis, appropriate treatment, and proper support for individuals and their families affected by these conditions.

If you or a loved one are experiencing memory loss or other cognitive changes, seeking medical evaluation from a healthcare professional is crucial. Early diagnosis and intervention can make a difference in managing the symptoms and improving the quality of life for those affected by dementia or Alzheimer’s. 

Find out more about how Eximius can support you or a loved one with dementia.

Further reading

What happens in the early stages of dementia?

Preventing Dementia: Strategies for Maintaining Cognitive Health

Understanding The Diagnostic Process For Dementia

How to communicate with a person with dementia