10 Facts You Didn’t Know About Alzheimer’s Disease And Dementia

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated April 15, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Dementia is a growing concern in our world. Dementia statistics show there are more than 55 million people around the world living with it. Every year, there are an additional 10 million people diagnosed with dementia. Worldwide, up to 24 million people have Alzheimer's and dementia, with Alzheimer's being a specific disease type of dementia. With increasing age as one of the main risk factors and a growing number of people affected, it is important to be familiar with the early signs, dementia symptoms, behavior changes, and brain changes that can come with dementia and Alzheimer's disease as the disease progresses.


Below is a list of dementia and Alzheimer's facts you may not have known about these two conditions, which can help you distinguish the difference between dementia and Alzheimer's disease. The more you know, the more likely you may be to spot symptoms and signs in yourself or a loved one.

#1 Alzheimer's disease is a specific type of dementia

Dementia is not a disease in itself; rather, dementia is a general term that describes a specific group of symptoms affecting cognitive abilities. Many other conditions and disorders have dementia as one of their symptoms, including mild cognitive impairment and more severe cognitive impairment. Dementia often involves declining memory, other thinking skills, and other cognitive abilities as the brain cells deteriorate, which can be a normal part of the aging process for some individuals. Some other symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty following television shows or books
  • Loss of the skills to do daily tasks
  • Withdrawal from others
  • Changes in behavior
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Frequent confusion
  • Forgetfulness

On the other hand, Alzheimer’s is a specific, progressive disease in the brain and the most common cause of dementia. In fact, it accounts for around 60-80% of cases. Some other symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are:

  • A tendency to forget important things
  • Inability to get dressed properly
  • Lack of hygiene
  • Inability to manage money
  • Inability to do everyday tasks like cooking or cleaning
  • A tendency to lose one’s train of thought
  • Trouble finding the right words to use
  • Rapid mood swings and agitation
  • Depression
  • Inability to tell directions and distances
  • A tendency to get lost 
  • Trouble starting activities
  • A tendency to forget how to behave around others
  • Lack of attention
  • Confusion

#2 The causes of dementia are numerous

There are many different diseases that can cause the onset of dementia. However, it is the degradation of cells in the brain that tends to cause the condition. Whether it is from biological or external causes, cell damage is ultimately what leads to the development of the disorder. The risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease increases for those who:

  • Have diabetes
  • Are depressed
  • Use of alcohol or drugs
  • Smoke cigarettes
  • Have untreated high blood pressure during middle age
  • Are obese or overweight

#3 Women are diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease more than men are

The Alzheimer’s Association has reported that nearly 66% of Americans diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease are women. However, many experts claim this does not mean that women are more susceptible. Instead, they believe it is because women live longer than men. However, other studies have found this to be false as they are finding that women are more susceptible to the disease because of genetics or lifestyles. Whatever the reason, it still appears that women are at a higher risk of developing the disorder.

#4 Young people can get Alzheimer’s too

We may think of Alzheimer’s as a disease of the elderly, but up to 5% of Americans with Alzheimer’s (around 200,000) have the early-onset variety, in which symptoms start as early as age 30. The cause of this disease in young people is unknown, but many experts believe that it is genetic. Early-onset Alzheimer’s symptoms can differ from other types and may include:

  • Personality changes
  • Paranoia, anxiety, and depression
  • Confusion
  • Avoidance of others
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Poor judgment
  • Vision problems, such as difficulty seeing color and distances
  • Trouble remembering things you just did
  • A tendency to lose things
  • Problems remembering things just learned
  • A tendency to get lost
  • Inability to make decisions

#5 Types of dementia

There are many different types of dementia, but Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type. Alzheimer’s is the cause of most dementia cases, which is why they are so often mistaken for one another. The different types of dementia include:

  • Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome is a disorder of the brain caused by a deficiency of a vitamin, such as thiamine or vitamin B1.
  • Huntington’s Disease, or Huntington’s Chorea, is an inherited disease that causes mental, emotional, and physical symptoms similar to those of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Parkinson’s Disease is a common progressive degenerative disease of the nervous system that causes the nerve cells to die or break down. It typically starts with tremors in one or both hands.
  • Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus, or Hakim’s Syndrome, is a form of dementia that is caused by cerebral fluid building up in the brain.
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease is a rare brain disease that tends to progress faster than any of the other types of dementia.
  • Frontotemporal Dementia is another rare disease that typically affects the parts of the brain that control behavior, personality, and language.
  • Lewy Body Dementia is a disease caused by deposits of alpha-synuclein, which is a protein that affects the chemicals in the brain. The signs are similar to those of Alzheimer’s disease with more frequent hallucinations and delusions.
  • Vascular Dementia is caused by a decrease in blood flow in the brain that kills cells. The most common cause of vascular dementia is when a stroke blocks an artery in the brain.
  • Mixed Dementia is characterized by someone having more than one type of dementia at the same time. For example, those with Alzheimer’s disease can also have Lewy Body Dementia.

#6 Gardening may help

Studies have found that patients with any type of dementia can benefit from spending time in a garden. They do not have to be tending the garden, and it does not even have to be their garden for it to help them. In fact, just walking in a public garden or a park can be calming and relaxing. Many small studies have been done in the past decade in the United States as well as other countries that show a positive correlation between garden therapy and dementia. The patients’ levels of agitation and anxiety decreased after spending time in a garden, and they claim to find it relaxing.

#7 There are medications for dementia

Some medications commonly prescribed for dementia can be effective in treating its symptoms. While there is no cure and no way to end Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, there are some medications that can help, such as those that control glutamate in your brain. In addition, cholinesterase inhibitors can be used to boost a person’s memory by increasing important chemicals in the brain needed for recollection. However, some types of dementia are not treated in the same way. For example, vascular dementia is treated by managing the cause of the disease, which is typically high blood pressure or thyroid disease.

#8 There may be a link between hearing loss and dementia

In the past few years, there have been many studies done to determine whether there is a link between dementia and hearing loss. Some of these studies have found that those with hearing loss are at a much higher risk of developing dementia. This may be an important finding as experts try to determine the cause of these links and find ways to treat hearing loss earlier. Experts believe that if hearing loss is treated right away, the chances of getting dementia may decrease.

#9 Dementia consists of more than just memory loss

Although dementia typically starts by affecting the patient’s short-term memory, many other significant symptoms can develop. Dementia can also cause problems with speech, thinking, and coordination. It can also impact behavior, thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, and although it often starts as forgetfulness, it typically progresses to other issues, such as problems with sleeping, eating, and making decisions. Does Alzheimer's kill? Alzheimer's is a progressive disease that can cause complications due to the decline of brain function. The various complications can lead to death. Alzheimer’s disease typically causes the brain to shrink, which affects more than just memory. Other common symptoms include:

  • Changes in mood, such as sadness, anger, fear, anxiety, and loss of self-confidence
  • Trouble determining distances or spatial cues
  • Difficulties with speaking and remembering the correct words for things
  • Difficulty with day-to-day activities, such as bathing, dressing, and cooking
  • Problems with thinking things through or planning
  • Inability to manage money
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Inability to follow the storyline in television shows or movies
  • Depression
  • Isolation or withdrawal from family and friends

#10 Caregivers may be more susceptible to depression

Since caregivers often go through significant stress when caring for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, they may be more susceptible to feeling overwhelmed. They may even develop depression or experience anxiety attacks. They can feel a great deal of pressure but not much reward, especially in the later stages of these conditions. It’s important for caregivers to seek appropriate mental health care for themselves when needed.


Online therapy with BetterHelp

To help navigate the mix of emotions involved in caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, you might consider speaking with a licensed counselor. If leaving the house is impossible, you can speak with an online therapist at BetterHelp. You can connect with a counselor experienced with families caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. This can be helpful for those who need to be at home frequently to care for their loved ones and don’t have much free time for therapy sessions.

The effectiveness of online therapy

Online therapy can be beneficial for caregivers who are facing mental health concerns like anxiety and depression. In one study, researchers explored the efficacy of an internet-based intervention for family caregivers of people with dementia. Results showed that participants experienced reductions in their symptoms of anxiety and depression. The online-based interventions were also shown to be convenient and affordable, making care more available. 


Even if you have a close relationship with a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, it may be difficult to handle the symptoms, such as incontinence, agitation, and mood swings. It can also be hard to watch your loved one’s memory deteriorate. Each of these experiences can take a toll on your mental health, making it necessary to pursue counseling. By speaking to an online therapist who specializes in dementia-related disorders, you can process your emotions and gain coping skills to move forward more confidently, while supporting efforts to eliminate Alzheimer's disease.
Explore emotions related to Alzheimer's Disease
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