The difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia

Many people use the words Alzheimer’s and dementia interchangeably, but it is important to know that they are not the same thing.

The term dementia is applied to a set of symptoms that negatively impact memory and cognitive function, but it is not a disease itself. Alzheimer’s is a specific disease of the brain that can lead to dementia symptoms. However, not all dementia is caused by Alzheimer’s.

Learning about the important differences between Alzheimer’s and dementia can help you make informed care decisions and properly manage your symptoms. Here, we examine the differences between Alzheimer’s and dementia including what can be done to slow or prevent dementia symptoms.


Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a set of symptoms that occur when parts of the brain stop working or when they are damaged by diseases such as Alzheimer’s. The most common of these symptoms include memory loss, difficulty with language or speech, and cognitive decline.

There are many types of dementia such as Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and frontotemporal dementia. A person may have more than one dementia at a time and this is known as mixed dementia. Some degenerative diseases such as Huntington’s or Parkinson’s disease can cause dementia.

You are more likely to develop dementia as you age, although dementia can also affect younger people.


Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia in the UK and it accounts for almost two-thirds of all dementia cases amongst older adults.

While some changes in the brain are normal as we age, Alzheimer’s causes the abnormal build-up of two proteins in the brain called amyloid and tau. These proteins cause plaques and tangles in the brain which weaken the connection between nerve cells and damage them.

These changes often begin several years before the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s develop. Researchers are not yet certain of what triggers these changes in the brain, but both proteins are involved in the development of Alzheimer’s.

As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, these proteins lead to more significant damage to the brain. This damage affects how our brains work and leads to common Alzheimer’s symptoms such as memory loss and personality changes.


Different dementias can cause similar symptoms. Many of the early symptoms of both Alzheimer’s and other dementias are mild, so they are often overlooked. All forms of dementia are progressive diseases meaning that symptoms will gradually worsen over time.

It can cause early symptoms such as:

  • Cognitive decline
  • Memory impairment
  • Language or speech problems

Early Alzheimer’s symptoms include:

  • Difficulty remembering recent events or conversations
  • Confusion when planning daily tasks
  • Impaired judgement when making decisions
  • Disorientation, including getting lost in familiar places
  • Depression and other mood changes
  • Changes in behaviours and usual habits
  • Difficulty speaking and getting words muddles

Some of the other types of dementia will also share these symptoms, but they include or exclude certain symptoms that can help doctors arrive at a diagnosis.


Although dementia isn’t reversible, it can be treated. Dementia treatment begins by treating the underlying diseases or conditions that are causing dementia symptoms or by treating the symptoms themselves through medication, cognitive therapy or social interventions.

While there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, medication can be used to relieve symptoms. Certain medications are used to treat common symptoms such as depression, anxiety, memory loss and cognitive decline. People can have more than one type of dementia, a mixed dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease and Vascular dementia, so may benefit from the medications used to treat Alzheimer’s disease.


At Prestige Nursing & Care, we have supported individuals living with dementia to have an improved quality of life in their own homes and communities for over 75 years.

We know from our years of experience helping countless families across the UK and Scotland that when it comes to dementia care, your own home is best. For people living with dementia, leaving their home and familiar settings to move into a care home can have devastating effects on their ability to live well with dementia.

Our person-centred dementia care at home allows you to receive the dedicated care you need without having to leave your treasured home. The dementia care we provide is developed and supported by our in-house dementia expert and Admiral Nurse, Dr. Sue Jones. This ensures the care you receive will be of the highest quality and tailored to your own unique care needs, wants and preferences.

From discreet and sensitive personal care to companionship and emotional support, our competent and compassionate carers are there to provide help with a variety of day-to-day tasks so that you can continue to live life, your way. We can provide care by the hour, as short-term care, or as live-in care, so that you can choose the level of care and support that best suits your lifestyle.

Our dementia care at home is designed to evolve as your care needs change. We can provide dedicated care and support at every stage of your condition, for all of life.


We are providing care and support to those needing cancer care in over 30 locations in the heart of communities across England and Scotland.  The fully managed service we provide is highly responsive and our experts local to you can put care packages in place quickly, working in collaboration with local healthcare professionals, multidisciplinary teams, therapeutic care providers and other community support services.  We know this holistic approach ensures our clients get the best out of life, for all of life.


Find out why our clients choose Prestige Nursing & Care for a high quality, responsive home care service.

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