Are dementia and Alzheimer’s the same thing?

Mar 2, 2021 | Joey Keillor | @joeykeillor | Comments (4)




You may use the terms Alzheimer’s and dementia as if they mean the same thing, but they’re really two different terms. Here’s the difference.

Dementia is a syndrome linked to problems with remembering, learning new things, focusing and making decisions that affect everyday life. It’s an umbrella term that includes thinking (cognitive) problems that interfere with someone’s normal day-to-day functioning.

Dementia can affect behavior, decision-making, memory, language, visual or spatial perception, and attention, among other areas of daily living. More than one of these areas is usually affected, but one area may be more affected than another.

There are four main types of dementia:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Vascular dementia
  • Lewy body dementia
  • Frontotemporal degeneration

In other words, Alzheimer’s disease is a form – or cause – of dementia. Dementia, on the other hand, isn’t a specific disease. Dementia is a syndrome. Dementia is also an overall term – sometimes referred to as an umbrel­la term — that describes a range of symptoms.

Each form of dementia has different char­acteristics and causes specific symptoms. Because dementia describes a range of symptoms and many disorders, it’s pos­sible to have symptoms of more than one disorder at the same time.

Alzheimer’s disease is one cause of dementia, but it’s not the only one.

Learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia in Mayo Clinic on Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias, recently published by Mayo Clinic Press.



Interested in more newsfeed posts like this? Go to the Aging & Health: Take Charge blog.

Very interesting, new to me.


I was aware of this. My mother's dementia was brought on by strokes, which affected her mental abilities without muscular symptoms. My primary care doctor at Mayo took her on as a patient and we got her blood pressure and other factors stabilized, but her mental abilities continued to decline over time. She didn't experience the mood swings commonly found with Alzheimer's, which was a blessing, but her dementia was still a terrible life stealing process.


Any Lewy body folks out there?


Any Lewy body folks out there?

Jump to this post

Hi Marty, Allow me to connect you with others talking about Lewy body dementia.

First, check out these sections of the Dementia: Hub
— Lewy Body Dementia Video Series:
— Lewy Body Dementia Summit post-event video information:

Meet other members in these discussions:
- Lewy Body Dementia at age 51: Anyone else with early onset LBD?
- Communicating Challenges With Lewy Body and Dementia

Please sign in or register to post a reply.