Dementia or Alzheimer's disease – is there a difference??
Short-term memory is failing in many older people. To a certain extent, this is normal age-related forgetfulness. However, memory lapses can also be a sign of incipient dementia. Dementia is the generic term for cognitive impairments characterized by disturbances in thinking, remembering and orientation. In the advanced stages of the disease, dementia patients are no longer able to lead their lives independently.
Alzheimer's disease most common dementia
In Germany, about 1.4 million people are currently living with dementia. With a share of 60 percent, Alzheimer's is the most common dementia disease. In addition, vascular dementia is widespread, accounting for about 15 percent of cases. Another 15 percent have a mixed form of Alzheimer's and vascular dementia. The remaining 10 percent are rarer forms of dementia such as Parkinson's dementia, frontotemporal dementia or Lewy body dementia. In addition, alcohol addiction, a traumatic brain injury or certain metabolic and infectious diseases such as Creutz-Feld-Jakob disease can also lead to dementia.
Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia occur most frequently in old age. While less than two percent of 65- to 69-year-olds are affected by dementia, more than 30 percent of those over 90 suffer from dementia. Two thirds of them are women.
The symptoms, such as forgetfulness, memory lapses, word-finding problems and loss of orientation, are always similar. However, there is a fundamental difference between vascular dementia and Alzheimer's disease. In Alzheimer's disease, nerve cells in the brain die off. The brain eventually shrinks by 20 percent. Brain volume loss can be visualized by computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in the middle and advanced stages of the disease. The destruction of the nerve cells also destroys the transmission points between the nerve cells that serve to transmit and process information. Protein deposits called plaques between nerve cells are characteristic of Alzheimer's disease. In addition, the death of nerve cells is accompanied by the formation of abnormally altered protein fragments, which are deposited in the brain in the form of fibrils. Alois Alzheimer was the first to describe these neurofibrillary tangles. Studies show that protein deposits begin at around age 50, but the disease often breaks out years to decades later.
Alzheimer's disease develops over a period of up to twenty years. But memory loss can be delayed with mental activity. The. read
Calcification of the blood vessels
In vascular dementia, on the other hand, calcifications are the cause of forgetfulness and memory disorders. The most common cause is a thickening of the walls of the small blood vessels, which means that deep structures of the brain are no longer sufficiently supplied with blood. As a result, nerve cells in the brain also die off. The vascular disease can also lead to small infarcts that damage the nerve fibers. Depending on which regions of the brain are affected, there are memory losses that also affect parts of long-term memory. Certain memories of people, names and events are then gone.
Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia are difficult to distinguish in the early stages: Forgetfulness, impaired thinking, difficulty with everyday tasks, language problems, orientation problems, mood swings, changes in behavior and personality are more or less pronounced in both forms of dementia. However, Alzheimer's disease progresses relentlessly, leading to total mental deterioration, including loss of speech and the ability to control the bladder and bowels. In contrast, the condition of individuals with vascular dementia tends to remain relatively stable. Since there are also mixed forms, it is often difficult to predict the course of the disease.