What is the Difference between Alzheimers & Dementia?
Before we can look at treatment for either of these conditions it is first important to understand the difference.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease aren’t the same. Dementia is an overall term used to describe symptoms that impact memory, performance of daily activities, and communication abilities. It could be thought that Dementia as being the precursor to Alzheimers and if diagnosed early enough, prevention of further deterioration maybe prevented and even improved depending on the cause and extent of the damage incurred.
Alzheimer’s is classified as a disease becoming worse with time, affecting memory, language, and thought.
It is possible for younger people to develop dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, the risk tends to increase with age. It is important to mention that the risk is less likely when a healthy, supportive lifestyle choices are put into place, as neither conditions are considered to be a normal part of aging or the aging process. The symptoms of these two conditions can appear quite similar, for effective treatment it is important to understand the person’s history and probable causes.
Dementia is a syndrome, not classed as a disease. A syndrome meaning a group of symptoms that doesn’t have a definitive diagnosis. Dementia is a group of symptoms that affects mental cognitive tasks such as memory and reasoning, this may be the precursor to someone developing Alzheimer’s disease.
An example is that of emphysema, this being known as the precursor to lung cancer, that is the underlying cause.
What causes Dementia?
Let’s first look at what is happening. There are many underlying causes of dementia, that result in degeneration of neurons (brain cells), there can also be disturbances or damage to other body systems that will affect neuron function. These neurons send messages to all body parts keeping them functioning and working in unison. These neurons also send messages for repair and regeneration. So when they become damaged so does the messages.
- Structural Brain Damage: either at birth or due to a head injury
- Acquired Brain injury: If you acquired a brain injury due to an accident contact one of these brain injury law firms.
- Chronic Stress and Trauma: Often the loss of a loved one, social isolation, an attack or threat to one’s life or lifestyle.
- Metabolic Disorders caused by inadequate or poor nutrition: such as Thyroid disorders, B12 deficiency, kidney and liver dysfunction. Heart disease, arteriosclerosis and digestive dysfunction.
- Toxic Overload: Excessive amount of toxins absorbed within the body’s systems unable to be excreted by normal bodily functions. This can occur with a diet based mainly on processed foods, working in a toxic environment, the use of toxic, chemically based products either household, skin, nail, hair care products, prescribed and non prescribed medications, smoking, illegal substance use and alcohol.
- Social stimulation: A lack of social stimulation and isolation can lead to depression and feelings of despair. This then giving symptoms of dementia as purpose of life seems to be lost.
- Sugar: the overload of sugar found in processed foods, soft drinks, pastries, lollies, chocolate and packaged foods.
Dementia Treatment and Care
Many cases of dementia are reversible, however this depends on the amount of damage incurred and the diligence of following up with the treatments to help these neurons to recover.
In this article I am going to be sharing with you the complimentary treatments that will support either the prevention, repair and restoration of the dementia phase.
- Eliminate any detrimental habits such as excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, taking drugs, consult with a physician to decrease any prescribed medications.
- Improve Nutrition: begin to introduce fresh vegetables, healthy protein such as fish and chicken, whilst including 1 – 2 teaspoons of turmeric and ginger into your daily diet. Use coconut oil and olive oil for cooking.
- Family Connection: Family members to remain close, share familiar experiences, outings, make the loved one for useful and a valued member of the family.
- Vitamin Supplements: include – B12 and B Complex supplements, magnesium, fish oil and Coenzyme Q10.
- Herbal Support: includes – Ginkgo biloba, Bacopa, Rosemary, Cayenne, Turmeric, Ginseng and Gotu Kola.
- Exercise: “If you don’t use it you will lose it” That goes for both your mind and your body. Join a gym, go walking, do yoga, play tennis, go dancing. All of this will also improve your brain function, cognitive skills and mobility.
- Socialization: This is a very important factor, it will help in feeling better about yourself. Join a group, connect with your family, go sit in a shopping centre, volunteer your time to something you enjoy. This will all give purpose to your life, helping to regenerate happy endorphins and brain cells. The more we cut off from people, the more we cut off from ourselves.
It is important that if you are wanting the treatment because the symptoms have already commenced that you consult a Health Professional, so that you can plan together your recovery. As dosages and gradual implementation of these processes are vital. If you are taking medication, it is important for you to find a Doctor and Naturopathic Health Professional to work with, as they will assist, guiding you with the necessary changes.
As we have mentioned this is what is known as the disease phase, where organs and tissue are beyond repair.
The best explanation I have heard as for the difference between Dementia and Alzheimers is “Everyone has memory lapses, but the difference here is that you may well forget where you parked the car, but with these imbalances you will have forgotten even coming in the car.”
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease that destroys memory and other important mental functions. At first, someone with Alzheimer’s disease may notice mild confusion and difficulty remembering. Eventually, people with the disease may even forget important people in their lives and undergo dramatic personality changes.
- Memory: everyone has memory lapses especially when we are trying to focus on too many things at a time or when we are tired. The difference here is that, the memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease persists and worsens, affecting your ability to function at work and at home.
- Thought and Reasoning: Alzheimer’s disease causes difficulty concentrating and thinking, especially about abstract concepts like numbers.
Multitasking is especially difficult, and it may be challenging to manage finances, balance cheque books and payment of bills on time. These difficulties may progress to inability to recognize and deal with numbers.
- Coping and Decisions: Coping and effective response to everyday problems, such as cooking forgetting that food is either on the stove or in the oven, driving or going out becomes decisively more challenging and difficult.
- Everyday Tasks and Planning: Routine activities that were inbuilt known tasks such as planning and cooking a meal, following a movie on television, showering, dressing and toileting become a struggle to the person as the disease progresses.
You will find with the onset of Alzheimers people will –
- Repeat statements and questions over and over, not realizing that they’ve asked the question before
- Forget conversations, appointments or events, and not remember them later
- Routinely misplace possessions, often putting them in illogical locations
- Get lost in familiar places
- Eventually forget the names of family members and everyday objects
- Have trouble finding the right words to identify objects, express thoughts or take part in conversations
Changes in personality and behavior
Brain changes that occur in Alzheimer’s disease can affect how someone acts and how they feel.
People with Alzheimer’s may experience:
- Social withdrawal
- Mood swings
- Distrust in others
- Irritability and aggressiveness
- Changes in sleeping habits
- Loss of inhibitions
- Delusions, such as believing something has been stolen
Many important skills are not lost until very late in the disease. These include the ability to read, dance and sing, enjoy old music, engage in crafts and hobbies, tell stories, and reminisce.
This is because information, skills and habits learned early in life are among the last abilities to be lost as the disease progresses; the part of the brain that stores this information tends to be affected later in the course of the disease. Capitalizing on these abilities can foster successes and maintain quality of life even into the moderate phase of the disease
What Causes Alzheimers?
Scientists believe that for most people, Alzheimer’s disease is caused by a combination of genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors that affect the brain over time.
Important to Note: Less than 5 percent of the time, Alzheimer’s is caused by specific genetic changes that virtually guarantee a person will develop the disease. So by improvement of lifestyle habits you have a 95% chance of not developing the disease.
Although the causes of Alzheimer’s aren’t yet fully understood, its effect on the brain is clear. Alzheimer’s disease damages and kills brain cells. A brain affected by Alzheimer’s disease has many fewer cells and many fewer connections among surviving cells than does a healthy brain.
As more and more brain cells die, Alzheimer’s leads to significant brain shrinkage. When doctors examine Alzheimer’s brain tissue under the microscope, they see two types of abnormalities that are considered hallmarks of the disease:
Plaques. These clumps of a protein called beta-amyloid may damage and destroy brain cells in several ways, including interfering with cell-to-cell communication. Although the ultimate cause of brain-cell death in Alzheimer’s isn’t known, the collection of beta-amyloid on the outside of brain cells is a prime suspect.
Tangles. Brain cells depend on an internal support and transport system to carry nutrients and other essential materials throughout their long extensions. This system requires the normal structure and functioning of a protein called tau.
In Alzheimer’s, threads of tau protein twist into abnormal tangles inside brain cells, leading to failure of the transport system. This failure is also strongly implicated in the decline and death of brain cells.
Who is a Risk of Alzheimers?
Age: Not that because you age, you are more likely to get Alzheimers, but it has been found that for people over the age of 65 years, it can become more prevalent due to inadequate nutrition, lost feelings of worth, isolation and segregation, loss of loved ones.
People with Disabilities: due to inadequate nutrition, poor eating habits, isolation and exclusion from society.
Past Head injuries or Trauma: people who have suffered post head injuries are at higher risk of Alzheimers.
Lifestyle and Organ Health: There’s no individual lifestyle factor that’s been noted to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
However, there is evidence that suggests that by implementing the same lifestyle changes that have you at risk of heart disease, will decrease your risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
Lifestyle habits that have been found to increase the risk of heart disease, will increase your risk of Alzheimers:
- Lack of exercise
- Smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke
- High blood pressure
- High blood cholesterol
- Poorly controlled type 2 diabetes
- A diet that doesn’t include fresh vegetables and fruit
- Not drinking water
- A diet High in Sugar, soft drinks etc
These risk factors are also linked to vascular dementia, a type of dementia caused by damaged blood vessels in the brain. Taking charge of your health by learning how to improve and change your lifestyle habits, will not only protect your heart, your circulation, improve liver and kidney function, will also reduce your risk of Alzheimers and vascular dementia..
Prevention is the Key
There seems to be little support with the treatment of Alzheimers in the person becoming well again. However, it has been found by implementing some lifestyle changes, it does seem to slow the process and improve the person’s quality of life. Prevention is always the best key when it comes to disease, supporting the body’s own unique ability to heal and function optimally lies in the food you eat, the thoughts you think and the actions you take.
- Healthy Diet: Excluding animal fats, soft drinks, lollies, commercial cakes and buns, processed and packaged foods. Including lean meat, chicken, fish, fresh vegetables and fruit.
- Exercise: 30 minutes minimal a day of exercise – walking, swimming, dancing, yoga etc
- Be Social: join a group, be involved with your family, talk to someone everyday. Even if it means going to your local store to have a conversation.
- Continue to Learn and Grow: Watch a great movie, read a book, take on something new to learn.
- Go Organic, Local and Natural: with your food, cleaning products, skin, hair and body products.
Take Time to Relax and Just Be: relaxation can be active going for a walk along the beach, in your local neighbourhood or park. Sitting outside with a cup of tea and a good book, listening to nature.
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