7 Common Misconceptions about Alzheimer’s Disease
Myth: Memory loss and Alzheimer’s are a normal part of aging.
Truth: While some mild issues with memory recall are to be expected during aging, Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of the aging process. It is a disease that gradually degenerates brain cells, causing confusion, memory loss and changes in thinking.
Those with Alzheimer’s may develop difficulty completing familiar tasks, challenges solving problems, and forgetfulness that interferes with daily life, among other symptoms. Forgetting a word and remembering it later is an example of normal memory loss. Having difficulty holding and following conversations is an example of Alzheimer’s.
Myth: Alzheimer’s and dementia are the same thing.
Truth: You’ll often hear the words “Alzheimer’s and dementia” used together, but these two terms mean different things and are not necessarily interchangeable. Dementia is an umbrella term that covers a range of medical conditions that cause abnormal changes in the brain. Alzheimer’s is just one form of dementia. Some of the other diseases that fall under the category of dementia are Lewy Body dementia, Frontotemporal dementia and Vascular dementia.
Myth: Alzheimer’s is a disease of the brain. It doesn’t affect the rest of the body.
Truth: While the defining characteristic of Alzheimer’s is the degeneration of the brain cells, Alzheimer’s can cause physical changes as well. Because the brain’s functions are connected to the rest of the body, Alzheimer’s can gradually cause stiff muscles, loss of coordination, fatigue and weakness, changes in sleep cycle, incontinence and seizures.
Myth: Alzheimer’s isn’t fatal.
Truth: Aside from the cognitive effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia, the physical effects can lead to health complications that result in death. Due to cognitive decline, those with Alzheimer’s are often unable to notice and seek help for physical ailments before they become severe. One common complication with Alzheimer’s and dementia is pneumonia, often caused by food or drink that enters the lungs when swallowing is impaired.
Myth: Alzheimer’s only affects seniors.
Truth: It’s true that symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia typically begin after the age of 65, but there are rare cases of early-onset Alzheimer’s. Early-onset Alzheimer’s can present in one’s 40s and 50s and is often overlooked at first because it is so uncommon. Doctors don’t know the cause of Alzheimer’s in younger individuals, but in a small number of cases, familial Alzheimer’s is inherited genetically.
Myth: Vaccines can cause Alzheimer’s.
Truth: Over the years, there have been many misconceptions regarding the cause of Alzheimer’s, from silver dental fillings to flu vaccines—and none of these are true. On the contrary, studies indicate that many vaccinations are correlated with a decreased likelihood for Alzheimer’s.
There is no evidence that any vaccine causes the onset of Alzheimer’s, including the COVID-19 vaccine. In fact, the Alzheimer’s Association strongly encourages the use of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Myth: Whether someone develops Alzheimer’s is up to chance.
Truth: Researchers have no clear answers on exactly what causes Alzheimer’s, however, studies suggest that there are some actions we can take to help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Current evidence suggests that regular exercise, a healthy diet, social engagement and reducing high blood pressure may help lower the chances of developing Alzheimer’s. Research from the University of Cambridge suggests that about one in three cases of Alzheimer’s is preventable, citing smoking, lack of exercise, depression and poor education as the leading risk factors.
Learn More About Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Whether you’re a caregiver, a loved one or have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, check out our blog to learn more about memory loss, from how dementia affects romantic relationships to what to bring when moving to a memory care community.
The above content is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you have a medical condition. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on our site.
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