Alzheimer’s is one of the most feared brain disorders. It gradually robs a person’s memory, destroys brain cells, and affects their ability to communicate and perform basic daily activities. Those who have the disease report feeling misunderstood, excluded, or even treated differently because of the stereotypes and misconceptions others have about the condition. These myths add to the stigma associated with Alzheimer’s disease and can prevent patients and family members from seeking diagnosis.
Here are 5 common myths and misconceptions about Alzheimer’s disease and the reality behind them.
Myth 1: Memory Loss is “Normal” for Seniors
Sure, as we age, our memory is not as sharp as it once was. However, it’s important to distinguish between a “senior moment” and true memory loss. You may misplace your keys, forget important dates or names, but in time you’re able to remember, then that’s not memory loss—that’s a part of aging.
So, when should you be concerned? If memory loss disrupts your life or affects your ability to function, you should seek evaluation and find out the cause of the symptoms. Early detection can prolong quality of life for those diagnosed and thus aid their caregivers and St. Louis senior care centers in providing necessary assistance and support.
Myth 2: Only “Old People” Get Alzheimer’s Disease
While age may be one of the strongest known risk factors, this does not mean it’s inevitable that most people will develop the disease as they grow older. In fact, experts say a majority of seniors don’t develop the disease. Alzheimer’s disease can appear in patients who are in their 40’s and 50’s and in some cases even younger.
Myth 3: People with Alzheimer’s Disease Become Violent and Aggressive
While Alzheimer’s disease can cause changes in personality, which sometimes are manifested in violence and aggression, these symptoms are often a result of confusion and fear due to changes in the brain. Caregivers, family members, and St. Louis senior care centers can help promote positive behaviors by understanding the disease and adapting their approaches and methods of communication.
Myth 4: You Can Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
There is no treatment to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. However, research suggests that a healthy lifestyle may reduce the risk of developing the disease, including:
- Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly
- Challenging your brain by learning a new skill
- Staying socially active
- Reducing stress
- Monitoring blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels
Myth 5: “My Relative Has Alzheimer’s Disease, So I’ll Develop It Too”
Your family history can play a role in your chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease; however, only five to seven percent of cases are associated with genetic factors. And, in most of the cases, the most commonly diagnosed form of the disease is early onset Familial Alzheimer’s disease (FAD).
It’s true, Alzheimer’s can be a frightening possibility in your or your loved one’s life at some point, but breakthroughs in prevention and treatment are constantly being discovered. As more is learned, we know that this disease can be managed with understanding and compassion.