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The Brain Explained: Understanding Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Not sure of the difference between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia? It’s a bit of a trick question.

Dementia isn’t actually a condition. It’s a general term for several diseases that cause a loss of brain function, including:

  • Alzheimer’s disease

  • Vascular dementia

  • Lewy body dementia

Here’s a closer look at these three diseases:

Alzheimer’s disease is caused by abnormal protein deposits and tangled fibers inside the brain, as well as a loss of connections between neurons in the brain. Early symptoms include memory loss, getting lost, trouble with daily tasks, and impaired judgment. It’s the most common form of dementia.

Vascular dementia occurs when blood vessels in the brain get blocked. It often happens after a major stroke or multiple minor strokes. Symptoms can vary depending on what part of the brain is affected. They can include confusion, vision loss, and trouble speaking or understanding words.

Lewy body dementia is caused by abnormal protein deposits in the brain, called Lewy bodies. Symptoms can include changes in thinking, confusion, balance problems or stiff muscles, hallucinations, and sleep problems.  

If you or a loved one have any of these symptoms, see your doctor. Although there is no cure for dementia, early treatment may help ease symptoms.

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