Q:

How do you know if a person is suffering from dementia versus Alzheimer's?

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Quick Answer

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, comprising between 60 and 80 percent of all cases, states the Alzheimer's Association. Alzheimer's disease cannot be definitively diagnosed until after death, notes Mayo Clinic. At autopsy, microscopic examination of the brain reveals the plaques and tangles characteristic of the disease.

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Full Answer

Dementia is a broad term that refers to brain disorders marked by a decline in memory, intellectual ability and social skills, explains the Alzheimer's Association. These changes tend to occur over time and with such severity that they impair an individual's daily life. There are many forms of dementia, including vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia and frontotemporal dementia. Some forms of dementia are reversible.

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive brain disease marked by the buildup of abnormal proteins in the brain, which leads to the cell death that results in cognitive decline, according to Cleveland Clinic. While the course of the disease varies from person to person, it is always fatal.

Increasing age is the greatest risk factor for developing Alzheimer's disease, states Mayo Clinic. Other risk factors include having a family history of the disease, being female, experiencing past head trauma and experiencing mild cognitive impairment. Poor lifestyle choices and limited learning and social engagement are also associated with the disease.

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