All forms of dementia involve an irreversible, progressive degeneration of brain cells.

Alzheimer’s Awareness Month shares information and understanding

Though sometimes used interchangeably, Alzheimer’s disease is only one type of dementia.

January is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, an important time to talk about how Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias affect Canadians, including the 70,000 British Columbians living with dementia. Throughout January, people across the country will be standing up and saying “I live with dementia. Let me help you understand.” Read their stories and learn more about the campaign now.

With 70,000 British Columbians living with dementia, it is important to understand what the terms “Alzheimer’s disease” and “dementia” actually mean.

Dementia is not one specific disease, but an overall term for a set of symptoms caused by disorders affecting the brain. Symptoms may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language, severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. Dementia may cause changes in mood or behaviour. Dementia is progressive, which means symptoms will gradually get worse as more brain cells become damaged and eventually die.

The term “Alzheimer’s disease” is sometimes used interchangeably with dementia. While it is the most well-known form of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is only one type of dementia. There are many other types of dementia, including frontotemporal dementia, vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia and more.

In addition, some treatable conditions – like vitamin deficiencies, thyroid disease, sleep disorders or depression – can cause symptoms similar to dementia.

Learn more in this short video:

What's the Difference Between Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia? from Sabina Brennan on Vimeo.

The material was created by Dr. Sabina Brennan of Trinity College Dublin and Trinity Brain Health with financial support from GENIO. © 2018 Trinity Brain Health. Permission to use this material was granted by Trinity Brain Health (trinitybrainhealth.com) which reserves all rights in the material.

What you need to know

There are many myths and realities about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, including that Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are normal parts of aging – they are not.

If you or someone you know is experiencing memory problems or other symptoms of dementia, it is important to speak to your health-care provider to arrange for a full medical assessment as early as possible.

The Alzheimer Society of B.C. can help

If you have questions about memory loss or dementia, the Alzheimer Society of B.C. can help. Available throughout the progression of the disease, from diagnosis (or before) to end-of-life care, the Society’s First Link® dementia support connects people living with dementia and their care partners to support services, education and information.

Connect to First Link by asking your health-care provider for a referral or by calling the First Link® Dementia Helpline, available Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.: 1-800-936-6033 (English), 1-833-674-5007 (Cantonese & Mandarin), or 1-833-674-5003 (Punjabi).

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If you have questions about memory loss or dementia, the Alzheimer Society of B.C. can help.

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