Resources & Articles

Is it Alzheimer’s? Is it Dementia? Is it Normal?

by The Lisa Vogel Agency

Welcome to our sixth segment in our sponsored series on elder care, written by expert in the field, Lisa Vogel, who owns and operates The Lisa Vogel Agency. We’re all living longer, how will you — and your parents — make the most of that extra time?

You may not be to the age where you’ve started worrying about losing your memory, but that angst is just around the corner and could be here for your older family members. It may begin with misplacing car keys more frequently, forgetting ingredients in a much loved recipe, or even confusing the phone number of a best friend. That’s when the questions begin: Is it Alzheimer’s? Is it dementia? Is it normal?

Memory loss and brain aging are a natural part of getting older. It’s a whole range of additional behaviors that may signal the start of more serious disorders such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. Alzheimer’s and dementia are two very different disorders.


Dementia, formerly called senility, is a group of symptoms that affect mental tasks like memory and reasoning. Dementia includes memory difficulty and problems in areas of cognitive functioning such as language, problem solving, spatial skills, judgment, planning and organization. In a nutshell, dementia is a symptom, and Alzheimer’s disease can be a cause of that symptom.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease of the brain that slowly impairs memory and cognitive function. The exact cause is unknown and there is no cure. The National Institutes of Health estimate that more than five million people in the United States have Alzheimer’s disease, and symptoms generally begin after age 60. Dementia consists of a set of symptoms that can be indicative of more than one underlying condition. Often, patients are found to have multiple conditions that may contribute to dementia – many of these patients are thought to have both vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Early warning signs for Alzheimer’s include: repeating stories and questions; having problems remembering words and engaging in conversation; experiencing sudden mood swings with disorientation and confusion; and neglecting personal hygiene. A family history of Alzheimer’s disease in an immediate family member can increase the risk of developing the disease by about two-fold. For a basic primer on Alzheimer’s, see a Guide to Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease available from Johns Hopkins at;.

While the right medication can help manage these disorders, patients can also benefit dramatically from supportive services from home health aids and other caregivers. As the disease progresses, an assisted living facility or nursing home may be necessary.

Lisa Vogel is the owner of The Lisa Vogel Agency, a home health care agency providing custodial care on a live-in or hourly basis for clients who require long-term care, rehabilitation care, or hospice care. If you have questions about care options for someone suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, call The Lisa Vogel Agency at 410-363-7770.

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