Alzheimer’s disease and dementia: What’s the difference?

While the terms “Alzheimer’s disease” and “dementia” are often used interchangeably, it’s important to know the difference between the two.

Dementia is not one specific disease. Rather, it is an umbrella term for a set of symptoms caused by physical disorders affecting the brain. There are different types of dementia, such as vascular dementia and frontotemporal dementia, but Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type, accounting for 60 to 80 per cent of all diagnoses.

Dementia is progressive, which means the symptoms will gradually worsen as more brain cells become damaged and eventually die.

Symptoms of dementia may include memory loss affecting day-to-day activities and difficulties with abstract thinking and language. Other symptoms of dementia may be changes in mood and behaviour. These symptoms can be common warning signs of dementia, but they may also be due to other underlying medical conditions, so it is important to speak to your health-care provider to share your concerns.

You can find more dementia resources available here.

While some risk factors for dementia can’t be changed – like age or genetic background – there are some ways you can take action to reduce your overall risk at any time of life:

  • Walk, jog, dance, garden or do chores! Any physical activity is better than none at all.
  • Hearing loss in mid-life can increase dementia risk by an average of 90 per cent. Use hearing aids if needed – they help reduce that risk. Protect your hearing from loud noises. Get your hearing tested.
  • Stay connected and engaged with your family, friends and community. Virtual visits and activities count, too! Social isolation in later life can increase dementia risk by an average of 60 per cent.
  • Quitting or reducing smoking, even in later life, can improve your brain health and reduce your dementia risk. Ask your health-care provider for support.

First Link

Have questions about dementia or memory loss?

The First Link® Yukon Dementia Helpline is for anyone in the Yukon who is affected by dementia – including people living with dementia, their families, caregivers and health-care providers, as well as others who are concerned about dementia or memory loss. This service is provided in collaboration with the Yukon Government.

Call the toll-free number: 1-888-852-2579, available from Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. All calls are confidential.

If you or someone you know in the Yukon is living with dementia or caring for someone who is, remember that you are not alone. When calling the First Link® Yukon Dementia Helpline, you can ask questions about the condition and its impact. Knowledgeable staff will also offer a listening ear and emotional support, helping you better understand the condition and its impact on people and their families.

Learn more about dementia support in the Yukon here.

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