Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s: Understanding the Difference | Caregivers for Seniors Vancouver

It is not uncommon for people to confuse the medical terms Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Caregivers and family members of elders with dementia or Alzheimer’s use the terms interchangeably in conversation thinking they refer to one and the same thing. In actuality, the two diagnoses are not synonymous and there are many distinct differences between them. In this post, our seasoned caregiver agency in Vancouver clarifies the relationship between dementia and Alzheimer and explains the differences between the two medical terrms.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease? | Caregivers for Elders Vancouver

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 50-70% of cases. The most common symptoms are memory loss, confusion, behavior changes and cognitive decline. It is also a progressive disease, meaning that the symptoms gradually worsen over time. For instance, memory loss may be mild in the early stages. As Alzheimer’s progresses toward late-stage, the patient may lose the ability to carry on a conversation or respond to their surroundings. It is important to note that there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. However, treatments may temporarily ease some symptoms or slow down their progression in some people.

What is Dementia? | Caregivers for Elders Vancouver

Dementia is an umbrella term that medical professionals use to describe a group of symptoms, such as impaired memory and thinking. It is a syndrome; NOT a disease. It is caused by diseases which damage the brain by causing a loss of nerve cells. One of those diseases is Alzheimer’s. Other causes of dementia include Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s Disease. While most changes in the brain that cause dementia are permanent and become worse with time, thinking and memory problems caused by depression, medication side effects, thyroid problems and vitamin deficiencies may improve when the condition is treated or addressed:

How Are They Different? | Caregivers for Seniors Vancouv

When a physician diagnoses someone with dementia, they are diagnosing them with a set of symptoms and not with a disease. This is similar to someone who suffers from a headache from time to time. Their head is feeling sore, but it is not known what is causing the soreness. It could be a head injury, high blood pressure or dehydration. Same thing happens when a person has dementia. They are experiencing symptoms without being told what is causing them. Another notable difference between the two is that Alzheimer’s cannot be reversed. As stated before, it is degenerative and incurable at this time. Some forms of dementia, such as a drug interaction or a vitamin deficiency, are actually reversible or temporary. It all depends on how early the sufferer is diagnosed. Once a cause of dementia is found, appropriate treatment and counseling can begin.


ACE Personnel is a family owned and operated service founded in 1977 by Diane Anderson (“Mrs. A”). It began as a home based business and has since been devoted to helping the local community with childcare and home care solutions. Mrs. A took great pride in the fact that she was able to help others through elderly care and nanny placements. She took time to get to know her each of her clients and as a result developed lasting relationships with many of them. Contact us today if you are looking for a professional caregiver or homecare for your loved one.