There is a lot of confusion about dementia and Alzheimer’s disease – partly due to a lack of clear findings in research, and partly due to a lack of awareness. Following are some common myths that you may have already heard about the disease:
- Myth: Alzheimer’s only affects older seniors.
Fact: While Alzheimer’s is significantly more prevalent in older seniors, it can still affect adults as young as 35. Early-onset Alzheimer’s, which accounts for around 5% of all cases, is mostly genetic.
- Myth: Dementia and Alzheimer’s are the same thing.
Fact: Dementia is an umbrella term – covering over 70 separate causes, and Alzheimer’s is one of them. Everyone with Alzheimer’s has dementia, but not everyone with dementia has Alzheimer’s.
- Myth: Memory loss is normal.
If you are writing off regular mistakes or errors in judgement, made by either you or your loved one, and stacking them up to ‘age’, you may be ignoring the initial symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
Fact: Changes in thinking are not normal. If you are unsure, get tested.
- Myth: Alzheimer’s can be prevented.
Fact: Diet, exercise, continued education, and good lifestyle all contribute to a healthy brain and may aid in decreasing risk of dementia. Unfortunately, results of medical research are still unsure about this, and many forms of dementia are genetic.
- Myth: Alzheimer’s is genetic.
Fact: There are some forms of dementia and Alzheimer’s that are genetic, and a family history certainly puts you at much higher risk, but it is not one hundred percent. Aging is still by far the biggest risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s, not genetics.
If you are concerned about you or your loved one developing Alzheimer’s, speak to your doctor about risk factors and getting tested. If you believe yourselves to be in a risk category, be sure to have the conversation with your family members while you are still in full capacity to make sure your wishes for care are clear to everyone.