The Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease | Generations Senior Living
Memory loss can be frightening for those who suffer from it — and heartbreaking for loved ones who witness it. If you’re worried about memory loss, it helps to understand the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It may also help to note that some decrease in memory is normal as we age. Learn more about memory loss and what you can do to fight it.
Memory loss is just one component of dementia, which is actually a cluster of different impairments. Dementia also involves cognitive changes such as losing the ability to handle complex tasks. Someone with dementia might also struggle to find the right words to communicate and be increasingly confused and disoriented.
Dementia can involve psychological changes as well, such as personality changes, paranoia, and even hallucinations.
Alzheimer’s disease is not the same as dementia, although it is a leading cause. With Alzheimer’s disease, the brain shrinks, killing brain cells. This cell death affects cognitive ability, often beginning with memory impairment.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disorder, meaning that it follows a path of deterioration over time. Early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can include:
- Difficulty remembering recent events or conversations
- Getting lost easily
- Misplacing items
- Losing names, words, or the ability to participate in conversations
How to improve your memory
If you’re concerned about preserving your memory, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk of memory loss and preserve your brain function.
Eat a healthy diet
A balanced diet with enough protein, fiber and nutrients can boost your brainpower, too. Lean on fish, fruits and vegetables to give your body what it needs to keep your memory strong.
Maintain an active lifestyle
Studies have shown that getting enough exercise and activity can benefit your brain as well as your body. Daily walks help, as do games with friends and family, and even nontraditional exercise
Avoid excessive alcohol use
Alzheimer’s disease has been linked to the brain damage caused by excessive alcohol use. If you drink, be sure to keep your drinks in moderation — no more than one or two drinks per day. In fact, cutting back on drinking could reduce your risk of developing dementia.
Control your diabetes
When you have diabetes, it’s critical to keep your blood sugar under control. Adults with diabetes have a much higher incidence of memory impairment, with up to 93% of Type 1 adults at risk of developing dementia.
Regularly stimulate your mind
Reading, puzzles, games: these are all good ways to keep your brain active and your memory sharp. Make a crossword puzzle part of your morning routine, or take an afternoon break with Sudoku. Reading a variety of fiction and nonfiction books is another great way to keep your brain cells busy and stave off decline. (Plus, it can give you interesting things to chat about with your friends!)
Take your vitamins
Studies have shown that people with very low levels of Vitamin D might be more at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. Taking a balanced multivitamin, getting sunshine and eating a variety of healthy foods can help ensure you’re getting the vitamins and minerals you need.
Get good sleep
Finally, don’t forget to turn out the light and get your Zzzz’s. Adequate sleep is vital for brain health. Experts suggest that older adults get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. When you don’t get enough sleep, you could experience memory problems. Plus, lack of sleep could increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Senior living is more fun with friends
The Alzheimer’s Association recommends staying mentally and socially active to keep your brain healthy. Life in a senior living community like Generations Berea or Generations Strongsville is a great way to do that! We provide social programs, outings and activities that help you stay sharp and connected. Reach out to a member of the team to schedule a tour and learn more.