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What is The Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimers

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Old 08-13-2009, 10:55 AM   #1
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What is The Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimers

I hate to sound dumb but this is new to me and I'm not sure what the difference is.
My mother had a stroke 7 yrs. ago, but it didn't seem to affect her mind.
In October '08 she had a TIA and ever since her mind has not been the same. She is 84 yrs. old.
If the stroke caused it,is it vascular dementia or is she starting to have alzheimers?

I know alzheimers eventually leads to death because your mind doesn't tell your body what to do???
She has a bad heart, had strokes, and broke her hip a few yrs. ago. She is bedridden because she can't walk.
She doesn't even feel like sitting up over about 20 or 30 minutes.
Now, she has started sleeping night and day. She only stays awake long enough to feed her and give her medicine. We rely on an RN to check her but they only come every few weeks.
Her blood pressure is not real low right now. It usually runs real low. I don't know why she's sleeping unless it's her heart.
Could this be a part of the alzheimers or dementia.
I know I should research more on this site but haven't had time yet.
I stay with mom 24 hrs. then my sister stays 24. I also have family at home. My husband and son.(30) so I have a lot to do when I'm off.
I don't have a computer at mom's. Wish I did!

Thanks for your help,

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Old 08-13-2009, 11:19 AM   #2
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Re: What is The Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimers



ok -- got that off my chest! whew.

now to answer your questions.

Your mother's situation may or may not be due to alzheimer or dementia. It is just her inability for her heart to sustain enough oxygen to provide nurishment to the rest of her organs and she's conserving energy.

Alzheimer and Dementia are truly only found by PET scans and autopsy's after death. There is no definitive tests that can be taken to identify the illness. Its basically on feedback from observant family members during doctor check ups and stuff.

Your mother has had problems and had a stroke. Strokes are deprivation of oxygen to the brain and it depends on what area is affected. Sometimes people can make new pathways to go around parts of the brain damaged by strokes. My grandfather had 7 of them intermingled with 3 heart attacks and the managed to live for quite awhile.

So you are welcomed here for support but the symptoms your mother is exhibiting could be common for so many things.

and years ago (to show my age) there wasn't a term Alzheimer or Dementia -- there was "hardening of the arteries" or being classified as the "funny aunt' etc.

I think its just your mother's old age impacted by other health-related issues.
You and your sister really should think to put your mother into a long-care facility so that you wouldn't each have to give up 24 hour periods of your home lives. You are cheating your family of your time and you are expending your own energy and health and not in a good way. even if you have to sell where you mother is and private pay for the facility until the money is exhausted, its better than it taking a toll on your marriage and family life. You and your sister deserve more.

I also know that there are others who say this is the least you can do for your Mom and I know that feeling as well. Its just that I know the toll illnesses can take on the family.


Old 08-13-2009, 11:41 AM   #3
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Re: What is The Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimers

Dementia is a category of illnesses. Alzheimer's is one disease in that category.

Just like soup is a category of food, and pea soup is a specific type of soup.

So you can sometimes say, ''she has Alzheimers'', or ''she has dementia'' and they are both right.

But some people have dementias which are not Alzheimers. Such as Pick's Disease or Kreuzfeld Jakobs disease.

Hope this helps.



Last edited by Martha H; 08-13-2009 at 11:42 AM.

Old 08-13-2009, 12:12 PM   #4
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Re: What is The Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimers

Your mother's dementia is caused by the TIA' you noted a vascular dementia. Alzheimers is a slow progressive disease that has specific doesn't just happen one day. However, TIA's do just happen one day they are fine the next they are does not have stages however she can have multiple TIA's that can cause her the problems you now see. But in the end they both seem the same... the person is extremely confused and in your Mom's case she probably had several TIA's and over time that will affect different parts of the brain and the part of the brain that keeps her alert and on her feet apparently has been affected. With her sleeping all the time can also be caused to the side effects of the medications she is on(ask the nurse or doctors office or look up the medicines yourself online and see what the side effects are) or it could be due to the part of the brain affected by TIA's. Either way I am sorry you have to deal with is hard to go through. Good luck.

Old 08-13-2009, 02:50 PM   #5
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Re: What is The Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimers

The gals here are right. Dementia is a broad catagory of many different types of conditions that cause cognitive decline. Alzheimer's and Vascular Dementia are both types of Dementia. I have a parent with each. Mom's Alzheimer's has been a constant decline day to day. Dad's Vascular Dementia has been stable for years and falls in steps that are related to his heart conditions. He does sleep a lot. Mom rarely sleeps. I do believe the sleeping is because of his heart/circulatory situation. He also has PAD and is put together with bypasses and stints. If the blood is not flowing in other parts of the body it is probably not flowing in the brain as well. Medication is also another reason for excessive sleepiness. You might want to check with your pharmacist and see if there is a med or combination of meds that might be causing her to sleep so much.

Caring is right.... there are no dumb questions. There are just things to learn. I hate you needed to find us but glad you did. This is a great group and we are all in similar situations. The great ears, shoulders, and minds here have been my salvation!! Hope you stay around and type as often as you can. I will keep you and your Mom in my thoughts and prayers....

Love, deb

Old 08-13-2009, 04:10 PM   #6
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Re: What is The Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimers

Thank you all for your replies. They were quick. Just took a nap and here they are!
I don't think it's the medication because her meds are the same as when she first got home. This sleep thing just started a week ago. Usually she sleeps about 2-3 hrs and is up for 1 or 2 hrs. She wants coffee and a little snack. (de-caff coffee). Of course that makes it hard on us who need to sleep at night. She has always slept in the daytime more, but this time she's really sleeping days and nights.
I tend to think it's her heart too, and she's not getting enough oxygen.
As for the long care facility, she was in one for three months. She caught two viruses while there and lost 15 lbs. She was catching everything coming and going . The nursing assistants were not careful at all about spreading germs. One of the nurses even went around kissing the patients on the face when she was sick herself.

Needless to say, we had an awful experience there. Her blood would suddenly spike (get extremely thin) and nobody knew why.
One nurse said she might have given her aspirin. She takes Warfarin and should never take aspirin.
We decided to bring her home and stay with her. It is very hard, but we are hanging in and trying to stay tough.

Thanks again for the info. It sounds like she doesn't exactly have Alzheimers but it affects her similarly.
She will hand you something that isn't there. She thinks someone is in the room besides her. She hears people talking.
A lot of the same stuff I see posted here.
She does know everyone though, and is always nice to us.
Thank goodness.


Old 08-13-2009, 05:58 PM   #7
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Re: What is The Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimers

I have noticed that the delusion (which is what you described) happen more with my Dad (vascular Dementia) than with Mom (Alzheimer's). Dad hears people and sees things that are not there. He will get up and have to go take care of imaginary situations and swears he hears people calling him. He does sleep a lot. Usually 12 to 15 hours a night with several naps during the day. He is always up and dressed but that's my dad. He gets up, gets dressed, sits down and goes to sleep. He eats breakfast and goes to sleep again and so goes his day. If he is still and not eating, he is sleeping!

I do understand your concerns about viruses in the facility setting. Unless they are careful germs can spread rapidly. We had the same problem with Mom and Dad in the first facility they were in. They each had at least three viruses each that first winter. At the new facility they are meticulous about their hygiene and so far, in 4 months, there have been no viruses. They also had repeated urinary tract infections in the last facility and once we got mom's cleared up after she moved... there have been no more of those either

Each has to find their own way through this disease with their loved one. It doesn't matter what the root cause, with each case the process and the outcome is the same and it's nice to have those around that understand. So hang in there and hang with us

Love, deb

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