Question: The doctor said my grandma has dementia. Is that the same thing as Alzheimer’s Disease? – Helen, Birmingham, Alabama

Answer: Great question, it’s easy to confuse the two. Dementia is not a disease, but rather a group of symptoms characterized by a decline in intellectual functioning severe enough to interfere with a person's normal daily activities and social relationships. Alzheimer's disease is but one of the many types of dementia, but is the most common cause of dementia in older persons. It is marked by progressive and, at present, irreversible declines in certain cognitive functions. These impairments may include declines in memory, time and space orientation, abstract thinking, the ability to learn and carry out mathematical calculations, language and communication skills, personality changes, impairment of judgment, and the performance of routine tasks. There are many other forms of dementia but the second most common form is vascular dementia which is caused by destruction of neurons and their connections in the brain, due to impaired blood supply or stroke. Other forms of dementia include Lewy Body dementia, fronto-temporal dementia - formerly known as Pick's disease- and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Dementia can also develop from other diseases affecting the nervous system, including Parkinson's disease and AIDS.

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About Dr. Mindy

Dr. Mindy Kim-Miller is a trained medical physician who provides useful, but general answers to questions provided by online visitors. While Dr. Mindy can not provide specific medical advice or services, we hope you find her responses useful in your personal education. All information is provided for informational and educational purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you suspect you have an illness or disease, or a health related condition of any kind, seek professional medical care with an appropriate health care professional immediately. Do not postpone or delay seeking treatment or disregard professional advice based upon the general answers provided by Dr. Mindy. Dr. Mindy's advice is not intended to substitute for a visit to your personal physician or other qualified health provider. Any specific medical concerns or questions you may have should be directed to your personal physician or other qualified health provider.

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