Social Worker Darby Morhardt explains the difference between Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
That is a very good question because that’s one that I get asked constantly, and it is really important to recognize that dementia is the umbrella term, and that it is a, that Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia in persons over the age of 65. There are many types of dementia though. Dementia in and of itself, that term just describes the symptoms, and the symptoms are loss of memory, you can have loss of language ability, changes in visual-spatial ability, how you see the world around you. Also, other symptoms of dementia can be changes in behavior or personality or judgment.
And depending on which of those symptoms are presenting, that will determine what really, type of dementia you are dealing with, and not everything is Alzheimer’s. Not all dementias are Alzheimer’s disease, and I think that while the Alzheimer’s Association and this country has done a tremendous job of raising awareness about Alzheimer’s disease, there are many other dementias that are also in need of recognition and it’s important to get a real good differential diagnosis at a good clinic because the treatments are different.
About Darby Morhardt, M.S.W., L.C.S.W.:
Darby Morhardt is a research associate professor, the Director of Education, and a clinical research social worker at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Her research interests include early stage and Younger Onset dementia programs and services, the dynamics and functioning of caregiving families, the subjective experience of Alzheimer's disease, and primary care physician education.