1 Fact Almost Everyone Gets Wrong About Dementia

1 Fact Almost Everyone Gets Wrong About Dementia post page

By Valerie FeurichJanuary 5th, 2021

1 Fact Almost Everyone Gets Wrong About Dementia


It is safe to assume that most people have heard of the condition of dementia. In society, it is commonly associated with memory loss and older age. But did you know that over 90% of the general population is mistaken about one important dementia-related fact?

In the U.S., it is common to use the terms Dementia and Alzheimers Disease interchangeably. But did you know that these two terms are actually not the same?

Unlike Alzheimers Disease, dementia is an umbrella term that describes a large variety of conditions. Of these conditions, Alzheimers Disease, is a subtype (and if you look at the umbrella graphic, you can see that there are even different types of Alzheimers).
So, while Alzheimers is a form or type of dementia, it does not encompass all types of dementia or progressive loss of cognitive function.

In fact, at the writing of this article, it is believed that there are over 120 different types of dementia (read more about some of the most common ones further down on this page).

So why does it matter to not use dementia and Alzheimers interchangeably?

Because by publicly acknowledging the fact that these two terms are not the same, you set the stage for increased public awareness that there are more dementias than just Alzheimers, thereby helping to shine the spotlight on the other, lesser-known forms.

And with increased public awareness about these other dementia types, you can help increase the chances of more accurate diagnoses for those affected, more funding for research, and more awareness about the need for condition-appropriate care partner skills.

Interested in learning more about the more common types of dementia?

Below you can find brief explanations by the Mayo Clinic as well as some content by Positive Approach to Care® about each of these more common types:

Alzheimers Disease:

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disorder that causes brain cells to waste away (degenerate) and die. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia — a continuous decline in thinking, behavioral and social skills that disrupts a person's ability to function independently. (Source)

Watch the PAC Team talk about Alzheimers:

Lewy Body Dementia (LBD):

Lewy body dementia, also known as dementia with Lewy bodies, is the second most common type of progressive dementia after Alzheimer's disease dementia. Protein deposits, called Lewy bodies, develop in nerve cells in the brain regions involved in thinking, memory and movement (motor control). (Source)

Hear Teepa Snow talk about LBD in the Dementia Care Partner Talk Show:

Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD):

According to the Mayo Clinic, FTD is an umbrella term for a group of uncommon brain disorders that primarily affect the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. These areas of the brain are generally associated with personality, behavior and language. (Source)

Listen to an episode of the Dementia Care Partner Talk Show Podcast about Frontotemporal Dementia:

Vascular Dementia:

Vascular dementia is a general term describing problems with reasoning, planning, judgment, memory and other thought processes caused by brain damage from impaired blood flow to your brain. (Source)

Listen to episode #48 of the Dementia Care Partner Talk Show Podcast: What is Unique and Challenging About Vascular Dementia

(Interested in more podcasts? Listen for free by clicking here.)

10 Comments on “1 Fact Almost Everyone Gets Wrong About Dementia”

  1. Is it important yo have a decision diagnosis, or does it not matter if it is just labelled as ‘dementia? In the U.K. there was a vast waiting list for referral diagnosis, and this is the result my husband had. Would medication be different, and would it make a significant difference? It seems too vague, but I realise there is little chance of more info.

    1. It’s very helpful to know what kind of dementia so that you know and understand the signs, the progression and what to expect as far as typical behaviors so that you can have a plan in effect for dealing with it. Medications that work for one type of dementia may not work on others. For instance, Alzheimer’s drugs can be helpful in slowing the process but Frontotemporal dementia has no known treatment at all.

  2. So did I understand that Lewy Body Dementia is hard to diagnose & takes a long time to diagnose. If we can’t give them medication to calm them from having violent outbursts, fighting & trying to run away st every moment what do we do? When professional licensed helpers don’t want to come help where do we as caregivers & children stand. How do we handle such aggressiveness?

  3. That’s a great question and I’m sure many will chime in. I know enough from my time in training with PAC to say that that’s a huge topic. I encourage you to study Teepas videos here and on YouTube. It does make a difference to know because as a care partner, your knowledge will increase the quality of care you offer and it will increase the dignity and amount of happiness your loved one will experience. You are in the only position to make a difference in his/her life. How can you resist? Good luck Keep asking questions!

  4. One reason there are so many different dementias identified is because each one will likely originate in a different part of the brain. Depending on the brain area affected different symptoms and behaviours may result. It is useful to understand what is going on in the brain, but much more important is for you to be able to help you both have a good quality of life. I agree with Sydney that care is about managing the effects on the person, and minimising the stresses and anxieties of their day and Teepa is a great resource to help you understand and respond appropriately. Good luck as you progress.

  5. I have progressive vascular dementia. When I was diagnosed at age 57, the doctors handed me a pamphlet. I’ll let that sink in. A pamphlet! They told me “Vascular dementia is like Alzheimer’s. This will tell you more….” Since then, I’ve learned a LOT more and….got new doctors. LOVE the blog Teepa!!!

  6. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR CLARIFYING THE DIFFERENCE. I am so tired of other people saying that they have dementia. This one is even better, I just have a “little” dementia. You may be in the early stages but people think it is so much better if they only have a little dementia!!!!! So many people are afraid of saying they have ALZHEIMER’S. Saying they have dementia sounds so much better (or at least they think so!). I am a wife /caregiver for my husband who has Alzheimer’s. The greatest gift my husband gave me was accepting that he had Alzheimer’s from the very beginning and being willing to stop driving right away.

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