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Difference Between Alzheimer’s and Senile Dementia


Old age and the loss of mental faculties are an unfortunate but harsh reality. Alzheimer’s disease is, perhaps, the most common and debilitating of this type of affliction. However, most people are unaware that Alzheimer’s disease is only one disease under the larger umbrella that is Senile Dementia. Alzheimer’s maybe the most infamous, but there are many other forms of this condition.

Senile Dementia can be considered as an all-encompassing term utilized to indicate the deterioration and eventual loss of intellectual acuity related to advanced aging, and is caused by degeneration of ones brain cells. Alzheimer’s disease is often confused as either the same or alternatively it is often considered to be something entirely different from it. Yes and no; yes, Alzheimer’s disease is a condition that qualifies as Senile Dementia, but Alzheimer’s is actually one of the forms of it. Other forms of Senile Dementia include Fronto-temporal Dementia, Lewy Body disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Vascular Dementia. Alzheimer’s, meanwhile, is the most common of these. It should also not be confused with ‘normal’ senility.

Senile Dementia may be caused by any or all of the following: alcoholism, arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), depression, drugs, inadequate nutrition, strokes, problems with the thyroid gland, or other serious illnesses. Senile dementia is characterized by the gradual loss of brain cells. The sufferer’s short-term memory is the first aspect to be affected. The afflicted will tend to forget what happened or was talked about mere hours or even minutes ago. They will also suffer from difficulty in following and understanding the points of a conversation. What was a simple matter to comprehend before will now take much effort; everyday things like reading or watching their favorite TV show will be quite taxing. This progression may take a matter of years and will be progressive. The person will still be aware of their surroundings, but once Senile Dementia takes hold, confusion and deterioration of what makes up that individual’s personality are inevitable. Even ethical and moral norms the person recognized before will be altered by this affliction.

Alzheimer’s disease, on the other hand, is the most common form of Senile Dementia. About 60-70% of cases of dementia can be attributed to Alzheimer’s, but it is not a ‘normal’ effect of aging. There are cases where Alzheimer’s affects people at a much younger age (40-50 year olds). Just like other forms of Senile Dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is brought about by the gradual but progressive deterioration of neurons (brain cells). Studies have shown that the potential causes are plaques and tangles. Plaques are protein deposits that accumulate between the spaces of nerve cells. Tangles are protein fibers that compound within cells. While people will eventually have these as they grow older, a person afflicted with Alzheimer’s will have a much greater concentration of plaques and tangles, predictably, in the area of the brain which handles memory and cognitive functions.

While the direct relation to developing Alzheimer’s disease is yet to be determined, experts believe plaques and tangles contribute negative conditions that neurons require for effective function and maintenance. Once Alzheimer’s disease afflicts a person, that person will suffer from continuous memory loss, unpredictable behavior and mood swings. The person suffering from Alzheimer’s disease will also have progressive difficulty in comprehending and retaining information. In extreme cases, there will be violent outbreaks, extremely neurotic behavior and even difficulty eating, moving around and talking. The worst part is that Alzheimer’s disease is still an incurable condition. There are treatments to alleviate the symptoms; these only slow the effects, though they do ease the burden on the afflicted and the people around them. Alzheimer’s is a deadly condition and a person may suffer from a few years to 20 years depending on the person’s physical condition and age at the time the disease sets in.


1. Senile Dementia is the category that encompasses the different forms of dementia that people with advanced aging suffer from; Alzheimer’s is one of them.
2. Senile Dementia can be caused by multiple health or outside conditions; the cause for Alzheimer’s disease has yet to be fully discovered, though plaques and tangles may be the key.
3. Aging is not the cause of Senile Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease but occurs most often to those with advanced age.

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