June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, and at Legacy Home Health Care, we’re dedicated to raising awareness. Many people are confused about the terms “dementia” and “Alzheimer’s,” so with support from the Alzheimer’s Association, we’re providing several links and resources to help our patients and their caregivers identify areas of concern and the appropriate next steps.

Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life, while Alzheimer’s is a specific disease and the most common cause of dementia.

Understanding the distinction between dementia and Alzheimer’s is crucial. This knowledge empowers those living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, along with their families and caregivers.

Dementia Overview:

Dementia describes a set of symptoms associated with a decline in memory, reasoning, or other thinking skills. There are many types of dementia and various conditions that cause it. Mixed dementia occurs when changes associated with more than one type of dementia happen simultaneously. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause, accounting for 60-80% of dementia cases.

Dementia is not a normal part of aging. It results from brain cell damage that impairs their ability to communicate, affecting thinking, behavior, and emotions.

Alzheimer’s Overview:

Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease caused by complex changes following cell damage. It leads to dementia symptoms that progressively worsen over time. The most common early symptom is difficulty remembering new information, as the disease first affects the brain area associated with learning.

As Alzheimer’s advances, symptoms become more severe, including disorientation, confusion, and behavioral changes. Eventually, speaking, swallowing, and walking become difficult.

While increasing age is the greatest known risk factor for Alzheimer’s, the disease is not a normal part of aging. Most people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older, but approximately 200,000 Americans under 65 live with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Legacy Home Health Care offers comprehensive home health solutions for every stage of aging, including support for those affected by dementia and Alzheimer’s. Our Pathways to Independence program provides tailored solutions for patients throughout north central Florida. Our skilled nurses and staff are here to assist you every step of the way.

Click below to learn more about our Dementia Pathway and how to get the help you need.

Ten Early Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease:

  1. Memory Loss Affecting Daily Life:
    • Forgetting newly learned information; forgetting important dates or events; repeatedly asking the same questions; relying increasingly on memory aids (e.g., reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for tasks once handled independently
    • Typical Age-Related Change:
      • Occasionally forgetting names or appointments but remembering them later.
  2. Difficulties in Planning or Solving Problems:
    • Struggling to develop and follow plans; having difficulty working with numbers; struggling with common tasks such as following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills; having trouble concentrating; taking longer to complete tasks.
    • Typical Age-Related Change:
      • Making occasional errors when managing finances or household bills.
  3. Challenges Completing Familiar Tasks:
    • Expressing difficulty completing everyday tasks such as driving to familiar locations, organizing a grocery list, or remembering the rules of a favorite game.
    • Typical Age-Related Change:
      • Occasionally needing help with microwave settings or recording a TV show.
  4. Confusion with Time or Place:
    • Losing track of dates, seasons, and the passage of time. They might struggle to understand something that isn’t happening immediately and sometimes forget where they are or how they got there.
    • Typical Age-Related Change:
      • Getting confused about the day of the week but figuring it out later.
  5. Difficulty Understanding Visual Images and Spatial Relationships:
    • Experiencing vision changes that lead to problems with balance, reading, judging distance, and determining color or contrast.
    • Typical Age-Related Change:
      • Vision changes due to cataracts.
  6. New Issues with Words in Speaking or Writing:
    • Difficulty following or joining a conversation; stopping in the middle of speaking without knowing how to continue; repeating themselves, struggling with vocabulary; calling familiar objects by the wrong names.
    • Typical Age-Related Change:
      • Occasionally having difficulty finding the right word.
  7. Misplacing Items and Losing the Ability to Retrace Steps:
    • Placing things in unusual spots without the ability to retrace their steps to find them; accusing others of theft as the disease progresses.
    • Typical Age-Related Change:
      • Misplacing items occasionally but being able to retrace steps to find them.
  8. Decreased or Poor Judgment:
    • Reduced judgment and decision-making; decreased attention to personal grooming and cleanliness.
    • Typical Age-Related Change:
      • Occasionally making a bad decision, such as neglecting to change the car oil.
  9. Withdrawal from Work or Social Activities:
    • Difficulty holding or following conversations can cause individuals with Alzheimer’s to withdraw from hobbies, social activities, or other engagements, causing them to lose track of a favorite team or activity.
    • Typical Age-Related Change:
      • Sometimes feeling uninterested in family or social obligations.
  10. Mood and Personality Changes:
    • Mood and personality changes, including confusion, suspicion, depression, fear, or anxiety; becoming easily upset in unfamiliar situations.
    • Typical Age-Related Change:
      • Developing specific routines and becoming irritable when they are disrupted.