Knowing the Difference between Dementia and Depression

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Elder Care in Mansfield OH: Knowing the Difference between Dementia and Depression

Dementia and depression are two very different diseases and yet, in the elderly, they can have remarkable similarities, leading to misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatments. According to Dr. Keith Ablow, psychiatrist, author, and member of the Fox News Medical A-Team, “A million or more Americans who have been diagnosed with dementia (including Alzheimer’s dementia), which is debilitating and incurable, are actually suffering from major depression—and that is completely curable in more than 90 percent of cases.”

Why the Misdiagnosis?

Dementia and depression have many surprisingly similarities. These include memory problems, slowed speech and movement, extreme fatigue, apathy, and increasing isolation. Other symptoms of depression that can mimic those of dementia include irritability, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, wandering and unfounded suspicions.


The treatment for depression often consists of low-doses of antidepressants, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, and talk therapy. As you can see, this treatment varies dramatically from the treatment associated with forms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s which are designed to slow down the progression of the disease and improve the quality of life. These include various medications, behavioral changes, and lifestyle alterations.

Differences to Consider

Ultimately, a physician and psychiatrist, working together, should be able to come up with an accurate diagnosis. As a family caregiver, knowing the ways to detect the difference between these two diseases is an important aspect of caring. As David Bailey said, “The best advice I ever got was that knowledge is power and to keep reading.”

These are just a few of the differences that are sometimes noted between these two diseases:

  • At a certain stage of dementia, your aging parent may grow disoriented and get lost in familiar settings or be unaware of the time. Those who find themselves depressed usually do not lose awareness of time and place. In addition, those with dementia are not as aware of their memory problems as those who are depressed. Writing, speaking and motor skills are diminished with dementia while depression may find them slowed down but more responsive.


Elder Care Provider

Whether dementia or depression, an elder care provider can help your aging family member remain active and engaged—key necessities despite the diagnosis. They can assist with daily tasks, help them remember to take their medications, and support them with transportation to appointments and classes. Helping them join an organization in which they can volunteer or attend a support group helps them reach out to the community instead of increasing their isolation. The companionship of an elder care provider goes a long way in supporting and providing a good quality of life for your aging parent.

If you are considering elder care in Mansfield, OH, call the caring staff at Central Star Home Health at (419) 610-2161.  Providing services for families in Mansfield, Lexington, Bellville, Mt. Gilead, Loudonville, Crestline, Galion, Shelby, Ashland, Wooster, and the surrounding areas.


About the author: Tracy Clark
Tracy began working for Star Multi Care as the Administrator of the Mansfield, Ohio office in March, 2012. In January, 2014 she was relocated to Florida to assume the role as Branch Administrator of the Pembroke Pines and subsequently the Home Health Liaison until coming back to Ohio in June, 2015. Prior to working at Star Multi Care, Tracy attended Marion Technical School for Business Administration and served as a United States Army Medic during Desert Shield. However, her true life’s work was awakened while spending 12 years in the long term care and assisted living arena. She quickly learned that assisting older adults was a passion that could not be denied. Tracy takes pride in being able to meet with each of her clients upon admission. Getting to know each of them enables her to personalize the care they receive and to direct her staff to ensure they receive the highest quality of care. In addition to her role as Home Health Liaison, Tracy has always been active in her community. She has served on the Salvation Army Advisory Board as Secretary, is a Certified Salvation Army National Disaster Responder, one of 1500 Specialists in 50 states to complete Mather LifeWays “PREPARE” training which trains professionals to address the medical and psychosocial needs of elderly residents affected by emergency situations, a member of the Advisory Committee for the Clinical Care Specialist Program at Madison Adult Career Center and is a member of various professional organizations throughout southeast Florida.