Nov 13, 2012

Alzheimer's or Dementia?

Dementia is a kinder and gentler word. Did you ever hear anyone say, "no one survives dementia"?

Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Alzheimer's vs Dementia

If you are reading here on the Alzheimer's Reading Room (ARR) you might be noticing that I am using new terms, and some words in concert that might be contradictory.

For example, I often write: Alzheimer's and related dementia. The intention on my part is to be all inclusive.

In other words, to include in our friends that our dealing with other types of dementia like: Dementia with Lewy Bodies, Vascular dementia, and Frontotemporal Dementia. Along with Alzheimer's disease these are often referred to as the Big Four of Dementia.

If you have been reading my articles on Dementia Friends, you might have noticed I am connecting two words: Alzheimer's and dementia.

Some people might find this confusing. I connect those two words at times because in some parts of the World the word Alzheimer's is being eliminated from the medical lexicon and being replaced by the word Dementia. In other words, the word dementia is used to describe all kinds and types of dementia.

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In this sense the word dementia is being used in a connotative sense. What is true is in the world lexicon the word dementia is taking on a new meaning. Lexicon refers to how language is used.

Many around the world prefer the word Dementia. They understand that the word Alzheimer's has a tremendous stigma attached to it. After all some leaders in the U.S. believe that

"Alzheimer's is a tragic epidemic that has no survivors. Not a single one."

I assume they believe it because they said it. They also published it in a report entitled "Generation Alzheimer's".

Too bad they never met Dotty --  Did Dotty Survive Alzheimer's?

I use the words Alzheimer's and Dementia together sometimes because these words have meaning to different parts of our constituency here on the Alzheimer's Reading Room.

This year we passed a new threshold - about 52 percent of readers come here from outside the United States. We are a global website.

Let's face it. Many people choke when they say the world Alzheimer's. Many people refuse to say it, it scares them.

Dementia is a kinder and gentler word. Did you ever hear anyone say, "no one survives dementia"?

The word dementia in its denotation usually refers to the loss of memory, and its negative affects on thinking, judgement, language, and the ability to perform normal daily tasks. Something along those lines. But, it does not tell what type of dementia.

Think of it this way.

If you wake up in the morning and you have a fever and a sore throat you know you are sick and need a doctor. When you get to the doctor you will tell him your symptoms - fever and sore throat. If the doctor looks in your throat and sees something like red spots, swollen tonsils, and notices your glands are swollen he might diagnose - strep throat.

So the sore throat and fever are the equivalent of dementia - symptoms. And the diagnosis strep throat - the equivalent Alzheimer's. Symptoms and diagnosis.

You can go here to get a better description of the differences between Alzheimer's and Dementia:

Times are changing, however, and so is the use of these two words. Bottom line. In some parts of the world the word Dementia is used interchangeably with Alzheimer's. They both mean the same thing.

I am on an international panel and I can tell you this. If we voted the group as a whole would probably prefer that the word "Alzheimer's" be jettisoned from the lexicon - from all languages.

It might be the only way to overcome the stigma attached to Alzheimer's. Change its name. I am on record as favoring the word - dementia.

So now in the UK we have the Dementia Friends movement. Everyone is included in. this is a good example of how the words are being used.

By the way. If you put the word - Alzheimer's - into Google search you might be surprised to learn how the Alzheimer's Association is describing themselves in search.

Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia | Alzheimer's Association

They put that description in. Google read it off the meta code on their webpage.

So who knows, maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks. Or, maybe it is just the first step in understanding the lexicon is changing.

Don't worry about us by the way. We already have a site up and ready to go -

Dementia Reading Room

In the future if you read a sentence like this one on the ARR -
It will change the way persons with dementia are viewed, and it will destroy the stigma attached to Alzheimer's and dementia.
 where I attach the words Alzheimer's and dementia with an "and",  don't sweat the small stuff. I'm just including every one in. All the dementias and all the people worldwide.

I guess you could say we have been including everyone in since the beginning. How else can you explain our global readership?

I wonder if I can figure out a way to visit all these countries, cities and towns?

Related content.

Bob DeMarco
Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The ARR knowledge base contains more than 3,811 articles with more than 306,100 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room