November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. There are several myths about early onset Alzheimer’s and dementia. Because of these myths, there tends to be a lot of stigma about people with early onset Alzheimer’s and dementia which can affect the individual’s level of care. Let’s dispel some of these myths:
Myth: “They Don’t Know They Have Alzheimer’s or Dementia.”
Fact: Those afflicted with early onset Alzheimer’s and dementia know that they are experiencing memory loss. As a result, they can get visibly frustrated. This frustration is also a result of the fear and confusion is experiencing due to their memory lapses.
Unfortunately, this frustration also lends to the myth that everyone with Alzheimer’s and dementia are violent and aggressive, making their loved ones wary about being around them, which adds to the feeling of isolation.
Myth: “Early Onset Alzheimer’s & Dementia is the Same as Late Onset.”
Fact: Alzheimer’s and dementia can develop in people as young as 30, known as early onset Alzheimer’s and dementia. That being said, early onset Alzheimer’s and dementia is not the same as late onset Alzheimer’s and dementia that people tend to see develop in seniors. For one, early onset Alzheimer’s and dementia tends to progress more slowly than late onset. However, progression does vary from person to person and it’s a good idea for your loved one to start treatment as soon as possible once they’re diagnosed. Doing so can slow the progression of the disease.
Myth: “There Are No Resources Available for People with Early Onset Alzheimer’s & Dementia.”
Fact: There are many resources and support groups for those with early onset Alzheimer’s and dementia. Those afflicted with this disease often have families with children and a career. Young adult children are thrown into the responsibility of taking care of their parent and are not ready for it. They and their parents also need help adjusting to the changes that will happen and finding balance in their lives. That way, parents can live their lives as normally as they can and children don’t have to postpone their lives.
Myth: “They Have No Quality of Life.”
Fact: This myth is probably the most harmful. To say that someone with early onset Alzheimer’s and dementia has no quality of life is cruel and gives the impression that their “life is over.” That couldn’t be further from the truth. Everyone measures quality of life differently and those with early onset Alzheimer’s and dementia can still get joy and satisfaction in their lives.
If your loved one has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s and dementia, work with them to plan their care before the disease progresses. Doing so will let you know what their wishes are and let them know that you support them.
You can learn more about senior Alzheimer’s and dementia in our previous blog.