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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Alzheimer's and Dementia: What's The Difference?

Many people think they are one and the same, but in reality the two are very different.

I'll give you the "quickie" answer:

Dementia is defined as the inability to do things you were once able to do. Think of dementia as a symptom and Alzheimer's as a cause. In essence, then, Alzheimer's causes dementia. A stroke can cause dementia. Parkinson's Disease can cause dementia. This means that dementia without a cause is not really a diagnosis, and Alzheimer's is the cause of dementia.

As mentioned in the last blog entry, AD is the impairment of memory, language and behavior due to brain tissue abnormalities. I encourage you to inform yourself of "All Things Alzheimer's" by visiting sites such as http://www.alz.org/ and take the "Brain Tour" which is a very good way to learn about the brain and AD.
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In other news, it's my intent to describe some of my own symptoms as it occurs to me to do so, and maybe you can relate to some of these as well.

1. When carrying on a conversation, sometimes a word will "fail"me. This can be a common word or it can be a medical term (with which I deal almost daily). Very aggravating and embarrassing, especially when the person I am speaking with is another medical professional.

2. One of my favorite pastimes is reading, and I have a voracious appetite for novels. I can finish a Stuart Woods (lots of dialogue) in a day, and it isn't unusual for me to read 2-3 books a week - kinda like changing the channels on a tv.

Because I tend not to retain the material I read, I sometimes will buy the same book twice. VERY aggravating and expensive, but I have a deal with my bookstores where I just keep the receipt and I can then swap for another one of the same value or apply the cost to a more expensive one. It makes it doubly difficult because I have to travel a ways to get to my nearest bookstore. This has led to me making a "reading list" and carrying it with me when I go to buy books. This would not have been the case a couple of years ago.

In order to better retain what I read, I have become something of a "Beethoven Scholar". he has long been my favorite composer, and in order to stay focused, I am reading about his life, his compositions, and his own problems with dementia late in life. It really helps to be able to speak about one of my favorite subjects, although I think that the people who listen to me talk about LvB are doing so out of kindness. ;)

That's it for now. Have a great week and be safe.

Bill

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