Alzheimer's and Dementia. What's The Difference?

Updated: Jan 11, 2019

The Difference Between Alzheimer's and Dementia

Alzheimer’s and dementia are terms which are often used interchangeably but are in fact different. From many standpoints they may appear similar but they do vary from each other if looked at from a medical point of view. Dementia is an umbrella term for a set of symptoms caused by irreversible and incurable disease (neurodegenerative disorders).  Alzheimer’s is the most common neurodegenerative disorder to have dementia as its symptoms, and affects 1% of people between the ages of 60 and 65 and over 50% of people over the age of 85. Other neurodegenerative disorders which cause dementia include Parkinson's disease, Lewy Body disease, and vascular problems. Alzheimer’s disorder is a gradual progression that can begin in middle age while dementia is usually found in later years in the advanced stage of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s. In other words, all people  with Alzheimer’s have dementia but all people with dementia do not have Alzheimer’s.


Dementia is usually caused by damage to neurons in the brain. Two of the symptoms must be met before diagnosing someone with dementia. Dementia symptoms include:

  • Poor judgement and reasoning

  • Decline in memory

  • Change of thinking skills

  • Decreased focus and attention

  • Change in language and communication

  • Change in personality and mood

  • Loss of ability to control emotions

  • Difficulty learning

Unfortunately, dementia due to neurodegenerative disorders is incurable and irreversible. However, according to Mayo Clinic, dementia that is caused by a vitamin deficiency or drug interaction is treatable and reversible. To find the right cure for this certain type of dementia it is best to consult a doctor about treatment methods. In relation to Alzheimer’s, dementia symptoms progressively gets worse as neurons continue to undergo apoptosis (cell death).


Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and is the degeneration of neurons in the cortex(the section of the brain which controls thoughts and actions). According to Osmosis, there are two main factors that contribute to Alzheimer’s, beta amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles.