Are dementia and Alzheimer’s disease the same thing?

You might think that Alzheimer's and dementia are simply different words for the same condition, but they aren't. Discover the key differences between Alzheimer's and dementia and find out why the two terms cause so much confusion

In a nutshell

Alzheimer's is a disease, dementia is not actually a disease but a collection of symptoms that occur when the brain cells stop working properly. You might also hear it described as a condition.


Three facts worth knowing

1. Dementia is the umbrella term used to describe a group of symptoms that people with various brain disorders might have with their memory, language and thinking. Alzheimer's disease is the best known of these brain disorders and the most common cause of dementia.

2. Around 850,000 people in the UK have dementia. Alzheimer's disease affects almost 500,000 of them.

3. There are around 200 types of dementia so being told you have dementia does not automatically mean you have Alzheimer's. For example, you may have another form of dementia such as vascular dementia or dementia with Lewy bodies. Or you may have a mixture of several forms of dementia.