How can I explain the difference between dementia and Alzheimers?

2 answers | Last updated: Mar 28, 2016
Dragonladynaps asked...

My mom has Parkinson's dementia, but because she is being treated with Alzheimer's meds including Aricept and Namenda, my father truly believes she has Alzheimer's. How can I convince him otherwise?

Expert Answers

Paula Spencer Scott, contributing editor, is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's. A Met Life Foundation Journalists in Aging fellow, she writes extensively about health and caregiving; four of her family members have had dementia.

I'm not sure why you need to convince him -- or can, aside from repeating the facts. Parkinson's Disease Dementia (PDD) and Alzheimer's Disease share many symptoms and, as your mother illustrates, treatments. Both are neurodegenerative brain disorders that progress at similar rates. PDD is common in people with Parkinson's, especially late in the disease.

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Community Answers

Frena answered...

you know, it really doesn't matter. dementia is dementia and Alzheimer's is dementia, though not all dementia is Alzheimer's, but a lot of people don't really know this and there's also a lot of loose and illogical thinking about it too. for example, it's common for people with Parkinson's to have dementia in late stages and often doctors call this Alzheimer's. but why? the Parkinson's meds alone are enough to cause dementia. instead of arguing with your Dad (which you won't win -- have you noticed?!) maybe find out a) why you want to argue about this -- probably you're stressed and tired and need some time off, or maybe you and your Dad have some old issues which now could be laid to rest by the person most flexible (that would be you) and b) why is it so important him to be sure she has Alzheimer's. if you can get involved int he real tangle here -- which is the deep part of your own relationship with Dad and his with Mom, you might find interesting things emerging that bring about other solutions. i work a lot with very old (and often demented) people. i can promise you that you won't win any arguments. but with love and attention and ingenious puzzle-solving, you may well be able to win him by your side. because i guarantee he is frightened and lonely. (any maybe you are too?)