Dementia or Alzheimer’s? Does the Difference Really Matter?

This or that

Many people do not understand the difference between Dementia and Alzheimer’s and the difference is huge. Dementia is NOT an answer, but Alzheimer’s is.  Let e explain.

Dementia in and of itself is not a disease but a collection of signs and symptoms caused by the deterioration in the brain.  Since several DISEASES cause brain deterioration, like Alzheimer’s, Vascular dementia, Frontotemporal, Lewy-Body, or Parkinson’s, they all fall under this umbrella.  They effect the nerves and the cognition or thinking and “doing” abilities.


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Dementia is not Alzheimer’s, but Alzheimer’s is one disease that can cause dementia. Get the Right Diagnosis.

So why do I bring this up?? Because it is very important that you get an accurate disease diagnosis. Do not settle for just the “signs & symptoms” syndrome called dementia but find out exactly which disease is causing it. Why?  Because every disease will exhibit different behaviors and thing disorders.  Some will come on fast, others slowly but being aware of these can better prepare you for what is to come and what help you need.  Also, the doctor knows how to better treat each specific disease.

If you were trying to sell me your car and you said it’s a car. I need to know what kind it is. Right? So let’s get specific. All of these diseases that fall under the umbrella term “dementia” act differently, just like different cars would when you drive them.

How long has this odd behavior been going on?

The next question we want to ask ourselves is how long has your loved one been experiencing these symptoms?  Most family members wait up to 2 years to take their loved one to the doctor for a diagnosis of dementia.  This is 2 years their loved one could have been treated t slow the disease. For example, if you noticed the behavior or dysfunction came on fast and out of the blue, it may be something else besides dementia.  But if you cannot remember when you first started noticing these little changes, it may have been because the changes were so slow and subtle you didn’t noticed them or they didn’t bother you at first.

Keep family records, especially if there has been dementia or Alzheimer’s in the family.

The family member finally gets their loved one to the doctor but has no record written down about the behaviors and problems they are seeing in their loved one.

I have a FREE worksheet for you to begin TODAY to keep track of strange behaviors or problems that are creeping up. Click below to get a copy.

So here’s what you want to do to be better prepared, save time, get a timely diagnosis, and be a star in the eyes of the doctor.

  1. Request all medical records (Yes, now you will need to fill out the HIPAA forms.) Remember, you can GIVE information, you can’t GET information without this.
  2. Keep the journal going. Just because you gave the doctor a week’s worth of activity, you want to maintain his habit so everyone knows how fast this disease is progressing.
  3. Have there been any recent surgeries, illnesses, hospitalizations, moves, or recent death of a loved one? This can give your loved one a wrong diagnosis.
  4. Get very specific using examples of how they are struggling to manage the cooking, house, driving, finances, dressing, etc. Has their hygiene changed lately?

Take all of this to the doctor with you.  Give the doctor the information they need in order to start the long process of evaluating your loved one for this disease.  Do not wait.

We can slow the disease if we know your loved one has it. Keep that journal handy, make a copy for your own records and then send it over to your loved one’s doctor so he or she can open the door of communication if your loved one is opposed to discussing this topic.

Again, use the FREE worksheets below to get started.


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Suzanne FiscelIa, PA-C, BCPA

I know exactly what it's like to feel like you just can't keep up. Working a full-time job, raising 3 children as a single mom, and taking care of her aging mother. But after feeling lost, overwhelmed, and guilty for spreading herself too thin, I saw all her patients and their caregivers going through the same thing. I learned how to put simple systems in place to keep my life free from distractions, find free time to do the things I wanted, and enjoy my family along the way. These simple step-by-step solutions have been shared with my patients, friends, and family. They too have found organization, confidence, peace, and freedom. Now we all live the life we love while caregiving! Come join us!

Hi I'm Suzanne

And my mission is to find you practical easy-to-follow solutions for everyday caregiving. Find out more HERE.

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