Important Notice: Dementia Society of America (DSA) does not provide medical advice. The contents are for informational purposes only and are not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
The word Dementia can elicit many different reactions, and many of these are unfortunately often based on incorrect information. Getting one’s arms around the definitions and meanings of Dementia terminology can be difficult.
We offer our top 3 FAQs and we want to talk to you about what you are thinking and feeling. Please call us at 1-800-DEMENTIA (1-800-336-3684) to learn more. You may also review our multimedia materials for more information, and discover our programs.
Our top 3 questions...
1. What is Dementia? The simple answer is it's an umbrella term, like "cancer." Cancer is found in different forms, such as breast cancer, leukemia, testicular cancer, melanoma, etc. It's no different with Dementia, there are many forms and types.
In addition, Dementias are considered severe forms of cognitive impairment that affect at least two functions of the brain. Examples include memory, decision making, behaviors, muscle motor skills, etc. Memory loss alone does not mean Dementia.
2. What is the difference between Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease? Alzheimer's Disease (often shortened to just "AD"), is simply one very common form of Dementia. There are many types of Dementia besides Alzheimer's. Moreover, not all Dementias are diseases or conditions related to Alzheimer's.
3. Can an Alzheimer's diagnosis be confirmed 100% while someone is alive? Well, the most recent answer used to be "no." But, that is changing rapidly. Today, still, only a post-mortem autopsy of the brain tissue can reveal with complete 100% certainty the types of pathology that Dr. Alois Alzheimer discovered over 100 years ago. Yet, within just the past few years, new brain imaging and bodily fluids (blood or cerebral spinal fluid) tests are giving medical professionals more than 90% certainty before death.
The science of brain imaging, DNA testing, and other state-of-the-art methods is improving the ability to detect certain tell-tale signs of all causes of Dementia. But still, not everyone has easy access to the advancements in testing that are possible. The best thing to do is not to assume or rubber stamp a diagnosis. Instead, the Dementia Society of America strongly urges anyone thought to have a cognitive impairment to get the best possible diagnostic workup by a board-certified geriatric or cognitive neurologist, and his or her team. Search for a medical professional.
Please see our Definitions page for more detail on each of the leading forms of Dementia.
Do you have additional questions that you would like answered? If so, please contact us.