Dementia versus Alzheimer’s – What’s the Difference?

dementia vs alzheimers
Here at Alabama Family Trust, we’re passionate about helping people care for their disabled loved ones. So it’s no surprise that we know a lot about things like dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease, because both of these can bring about drastic life changes for both you and your aging parent – which means you may need help giving them the highest quality of life possible.
But there is a difference between the two conditions, and it’s important to understand that difference so that you can better understand – and care for – your parent.
Read on to learn the specifics regarding dementia and Alzheimer’s, and find out how Alabama Family Trust can help you care for your loved one in Alabama – especially when it comes to nursing home care.

What Is Dementia?

Dementia is an umbrella term for a group of symptoms related to impaired cognitive skills and reduced memory capabilities. Its most forthcoming symptom is memory loss or memory difficulty, but other ways it may manifest include difficulty solving problems, poor spatial skills, language difficulties, reduced attention, poor judgment, and reduced organizational skills.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke defines dementia as a “word for a group of symptoms caused by disorders that affect the brain. It is not a specific disease. People with dementia may not be able to think well enough to do normal activities, such as getting dressed or eating. They may lose their ability to solve problems or control their emotions. Their personalities may change. They may become agitated or see things that are not there.”
Some causes of dementia can be treated and ultimately solved. These usually include certain vitamin deficiencies or thyroid conditions, and if they are discovered and treated, the dementia will go away, and the person can return to normal life. Unfortunately, though, most causes of dementia are not reversible and will get worse over time.

What Is Alzheimer’s?

In 1906, Dr. Alois Alzheimer discovered changes in the brain tissue of a woman who had died of an unusual mental illness. This woman had dealt with memory loss, unpredictable behavior, and language difficulties. Upon examining her brain, Dr. Alzheimer found clumps of protein plaques and tangled-up fibers.
Today, Alzheimer’s Disease is known as a very specific brain disease that leads to dementia. It actually destroys brain cells, which leads to memory loss, impaired thinking, and atypical behavior. In general, Alzheimer’s symptoms are so severe that all areas of life are impacted. The disease progresses slowly, and because there is no cure, it is ultimately fatal.
Signs of Alzheimer’s include things like getting lost in familiar places, asking the same questions over and over, difficulty with money and bill-paying, poor decision-making skills, misplacing items frequently, taking a longer time than usual to complete daily tasks, and behaving unusually. As the disease progresses, an individual may no longer be able to communicate, and may not recognize themselves or their loved ones.  
Elderly people are the most common sufferers of Alzheimer’s, with the disease accounting for 50-70% of dementia cases in people older than 65. Over 5 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranks it as the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.

Helping Your Loved One with Dementia or Alzheimer’s

For caretakers and family members, one of the hardest things about watching your elderly loved one deal with dementia or Alzheimer’s is the feeling of helplessness it brings. There is, however, one very tangible way you can help your aging parent in this stage of their life: give them the best quality of life possible.
In Alabama, when your parent enters a skilled nursing facility, you may be under the impression that they have to spend down all their assets before Medicaid will pay for the nursing home care. Fortunately, this isn’t true in Alabama (check with your state to see if the same applies for you). By placing your parent’s assets in a special needs trust, you can ensure that Medicaid won’t count them when considering your parent for financial eligibility – which means the bills will be paid by Medicaid, and you can use those assets in the trust for other things Medicaid won’t cover, like a private room for your parent.
(Again, make sure you know the laws in your state — not all of them are the same as Alabama laws.)
We know it’s extremely difficult to deal with a situation like dementia or Alzheimer’s. That’s why we’re committed to helping you care for your loved one in the best way you possibly can. Contact us today for more information on setting up a special needs trust. We are here to help, and we’ll walk you through the process – every step of the way.

Contact Us

Contact Alabama Family Trust via the contact link below to learn more about special needs trust funds.

Learn More