Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is dementia the same thing as Alzheimer's?"
My grandmother who I live with is suffering from dementia. Does this mean she has Alzheimer's disease too? Or is this just something that comes with old age? Any way to slow it down or stop it?
Dementia is not a specific disease, but rather a syndrome of different signs and symptoms. It generally refers to a loss of the brain's ability to function normally in a person who was previously doing well but in a more severe manner than what can be seen in normally aging individuals. Dementia is more common in older individuals but can occur before age 65 as well. There are many forms of dementia. Alzheimers disease is one form. It is a degenerative disease that mainly affects activities that require higher order brain functions i.e. attentiveness, thinking, memory, and over time, difficulty in performing daily activities, language, memory, with eventual progression to where a patient is dependent on a caregiver. Other forms of dementia occur as a result of brain injury, stroke or due to inherent brain disease. Currently, there are no medications that can cure dementia completely. There are medications that have been approved to treat dementia however. Some very commonly used drugs are Aricept and Namenda. Aricept is generally used to treat Alzheimer's dementia. If you suspect your grandmother is suffering from dementia, I would definitely make her an appointment with her primary care physician and seek a proper diagnosis and find options to treat her. Sometimes, medical problems maybe responsible for her symptoms and when she sees her physician, a variety of tests may be performed to diagnose her correctly, and treat her accordingly.
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