Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s: What’s the Difference?

Nick Rosen, MD
Medically reviewed by Nick Rosen, MDJune 25th, 2021

Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s: What’s the Difference?

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are both associated with the decline of memory in a person, which can cause some confusion between the two; many people think the terms are synonymous. Despite this common misconception, there is actually a difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s. Dementia is a general term that describes a group of symptoms (severe enough to interfere with daily life) associated with a decline in mental ability, while Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease. Let’s dive deeper into each term to give you a better understanding of how they differ.

Dementia: Symptoms & Causes

Dementia describes a group of symptoms affecting memory, cognitive skills, and social abilities, caused by damage to or loss of nerve cells and their connections in the brain. These symptoms are severe enough to interfere with an individual’s daily life. Dementia can affect people uniquely and cause different symptoms depending on the area of the brain that’s affected by the damage.

Despite being the main symptom, memory loss alone doesn’t mean you have dementia. It’s typically accompanied by difficulty with:

  • Communicating or finding words
  • Visual and spatial abilities, such as getting lost while driving
  • Reasoning or problem-solving
  • Handling complex tasks
  • Planning and organizing
  • Coordination and motor functions

Dementia can also have psychological effects, such as changes in personality, depression, anxiety, inappropriate behavior, paranoia, agitation, and hallucinations.

Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia

Alzheimer’s disease is both a type and cause of dementia. As a degenerative brain disease that is caused by complex changes to the brain following cell damage, Alzhemier’s can lead to symptoms associated with a decline in memory and thinking skills (dementia). Since Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia—accounting for 60-80% of cases—many people often confuse the two or mistake them for the same thing.

A Deeper Look Into Alzheimer’s

Alzhemier’s disease affects roughly 60 to 70% of the worldwide population with dementia. The greatest known risk factor is age; the majority of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older. However, this statistic does not mean that Alzheimer’s is a normal part of aging. Slowed thinking or occasional issues with memory are normal with age. But when signs of serious memory loss, confusion, or other major changes present themselves, then it may indicate that brain cells are damaged or failing rather than maturing.

Unfortunately, there is currently no known cure for Alzheimer’s. There are medications and treatment options that can temporarily improve or slow the progression of symptoms.

How In-Home Care Helps Patients With Dementia & Alzheimer’s

Since Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, symptoms worsen over time. This can make it increasingly difficult for someone living with the disease to receive treatment, as they can easily forget to attend doctors’ appointments or take medications. DispatchHealth tries to make living with Alzheimer’s or dementia a bit more manageable by offering in-home acute care for exacerbated symptoms, illnesses, or injuries.

Our highly trained team of medical professionals come to your home to provide the advanced medical care needed for you or a loved one living with

Alzheimer’s or dementia. Our medical team will arrive onsite with a kit that contains most of the technologies and tools found in a typical ER, including blood tests, IVs, and a 12-lead EKG. This allows us to treat acute health problems, perform a variety of advanced tests and treatments, prescribe medications, and even suture wounds. On top of these services, we’ll also work closely with your primary care physician, sending them detailed reports and prescription information so that your entire medical team is on the same page.

DispatchHealth is Here to Help

Whether you or a loved one is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, you can count on DispatchHealth to provide convenient and comprehensive medical care. Schedule an appointment with us through our website, mobile app, or via phone, and our friendly and knowledgeable team will arrive at your home within a few hours.

[availability_widget] For life-threatening and time-sensitive injuries and illnesses, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. DispatchHealth shouldn’t be used in a life-threatening emergency and doesn’t replace a primary care provider.


DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.

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The DispatchHealth blog provides tips, tricks and advice for improving lives through convenient, comfortable healthcare.

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