Home>Innovations>Memory Health Support>Is this Alzheimer’s or dementia?

“Is this Alzheimer’s or dementia?”

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and represents 70% of the cases. It typically affects older adults.
Understanding dementia: Types, progression, and differentiation

Dementia” is used to describe trouble with thinking and memory. People are not born with dementia. It’s something that develops later in life. Dementia usually has a gradual onset and can get worse over time. There are different kinds of dementia, but most of those who have dementia are diagnosed with Alzheimer's:

  • Alzheimer’s is the most common kind of dementia and typically affects older adults. When another explanation for dementia is not found, Alzheimer's is the most appropriate term to use.
  • Vascular, Lewy Body, Frontotemporal, and Parkinsonian are some of the other kinds of dementia. The history and symptoms of these kinds can be distinguished from Alzheimer's by your physician. Altogether, ~30% of cases fall into one of these categories
  • Reversible represents about 1% of cases. It means that the dementia symptoms are the effects of something reversible, including drug effects, vitamin B12 deficiency, and thyroid disease.

Benefits of early dementia diagnosis

An early diagnosis lets you plan care, get appropriate treatment, and make informed decisions about legal, financial, and care matters. The Everett Clinic and Polyclinic have implemented a unique program that includes specialized training for primary care physicians and new team members to work with families struggling with dementia. There’s no need to wait for a specialist appointment to get an accurate diagnosis, care plan, and the help of the specialized care team.

If you’re concerned, schedule an appointment today.

When you request an appointment, ask for a cognitive assessment, and that this assessment be the focus of the visit. This allows the physician enough time to do a thorough evaluation. If the patient is on Medicare, the Annual Wellness Visit includes a cognitive assessment. If the doctor provides a diagnosis using the term “dementia,” ask what type because if your loved one has Alzheimer's, it is important to know this.

Important tip: Keep this appointment focused on the cognitive assessment. If you have a longer list of concerns, it is wise to schedule a separate appointment.