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Is It Dementia or Depression?

By Mark Silvanic, 9:00 am on

Both dementia and depression are serious conditions, and sometimes it’s easy to mistake one for the other. However, treatments for the two conditions differ drastically, so it is important to understand each condition and how to tell them apart. Home Care Assistance of Colorado Springs can help family members understand these differences so they can better assist their loved ones.

What Is Dementia? 

Dementia is not a specific disease, but rather a set of symptoms that manifest as cognitive decline and memory loss. Generally, a senior’s memory declines enough that he or she becomes incapable of performing daily tasks. Specific causes of dementia include Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and traumatic brain injury. In addition to losing memory capacity, people with dementia also struggle with reasoning, communication, visual perception, and the ability to focus. Some types of dementia are treatable, but most are not.

What Is Depression? 

Depression is also a problem with the brain, but it’s the result of changes or problems with brain chemistry and the hormones in the brain. Depression is much deeper than feeling down for a few days. It requires interaction with a doctor who can prescribe medicines, therapy, or both to help improve the condition. Unlike dementia, depression is always treatable. Sometimes, depression causes symptoms that mimic those of dementia, like trouble focusing, communicating, and recalling new information.

What Is the Difference? 

It’s possible to understand which condition is affecting your loved one by looking at the symptoms. While depression is primarily a mood disorder, which affects physical desire or ability to think or speak as effectively as one did before, a person is generally still able to remember how to perform daily tasks of living. Similarly, memory lapses can generally be corrected with a prompt. Dementia, on the other hand, is mainly a cognitive disorder. Memory loss and cognitive decline are generally more prominent with dementia than depression.

It’s important to remember that some of the symptoms are quite similar and only a medical professional can give a proper diagnosis. If your loved one exhibits symptoms of depression or dementia, be sure to see his or her doctor. While dementia and depression can be challenging for seniors, both illnesses can be managed with the right care and support. At Home Care Assistance, we provide compassionate dementia care for Colorado Springs seniors on either a live-in or part-time basis. Whether your loved one needs medication reminders, emotional support, or help with everyday tasks, our knowledgeable caregivers can help. Call us today at (719) 822-1229 to schedule your complimentary in-home consultation.

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