Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease in Comparison

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are the two conditions that are frequently confused and used interchangeably. Still, they are two different diagnoses despite the fact that they are related. Huether and McCance (2016) define dementia as “the progressive failure of many cerebral functions that includes impairment of intellectual function with a decrease in orienting, memory, language, executive attentional functions, and alterations in behavior” (p. 545).

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At the same time, they consider Alzheimer’s disease to be the leading cause of dementia and “one of the most common causes of severe cognitive dysfunction in older adults” (Huether & McCance, 2016, p. 546). In fact, dementia can be of different types depending on the leading symptom. Thus, impairment of recent memory is typical of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), while behavioral changes can be a symptom of frontotemporal dementia (Waldemar & Burns, 2016).

Thus, AD is the most frequent type of dementia, with the prevalence from about 60 to 80% of all dementia cases (Huether & McCance, 2016). Apart from AD, there is vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, frontotemporal dementia, and Huntington’s disease. Thus, it is important to differentiate between these symptoms while diagnosing dementia because they can be the signs of different diseases or conditions. Another difference between dementia and AD is that AD is not reversible, and there is no effective treatment that can cure a patient. If diagnosed at an early stage, some improvements of the patient’s condition and the general quality of life are possible, but it is not curable. Still, some types of dementia can be treated, especially those that are temporary.


Huether, S.E., & McCance, K.L. (2016). Understanding pathophysiology (6th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.

Waldemar, G., & Burns, A. (Eds.). (2016). Alzheimer’s disease. (2nd ed.). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

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