There are numerous myths and misconceptions out there when it comes to medicine, but luckily, doctors are here to debunk all of them. By now, I think we can all agree that most myths come to life when people aren’t exactly pros in a certain domain. Ahh, and there’s a lack of knowledge, too.
Take Alzheimer’s disease, for example… How many people do you think could give an appropriate definition of this health condition? Well… according to a poll, not that many, which is fine, but the problem is that those people usually spread misinformation.
We are here to unveil those myths and everything related to Alzheimer’s disease.
What exactly is Alzheimer’s disease?
This disease is actually a progressive brain disorder. As a general rule, it leads to memory loss and certain issues with behavior and thinking. The sad thing is that most people tend to think that Alzheimer’s is a natural part of aging.
Well, although Alzheimer’s disease affects mostly seniors, it doesn’t mean that younger people are out of trouble. The Alzheimer’s Association notes that this disease is not a normal part of the aging process, and people should not believe that it only affects seniors.
According to the same association, around 5 million people live with Alzheimer’s in the U.S., and, unfortunately, most don’t even know they have this disease.
Alzheimer’s vs. dementia
Probably (if not certainly), one of the most common myths regarding Alzheimer’s is the confusion between this disease and dementia. Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are two different things; they are definitely not the same. And they aren’t the same because Alzheimer’s is actually a type of dementia!
The director of resident engagement at Wentworth Senior Living, Phoebe James, notes that most people say that their loved one has both dementia and Alzheimer’s. If you’re one of them, I’m afraid you’re wrong. Alzheimer’s disease is actually under the umbrella term of dementia.
And when we say they are two different things, we mean that there are more than one hundred different forms of dementia, one of which is Alzheimer’s.
You can’t really prevent or treat Alzheimer’s
Although there is virtually no cure for Alzheimer’s disease (at least not yet), it doesn’t mean you can’t prevent it. Some lifestyle changes can actually lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. In fact, the chief science officer at Neurotrack, Nick Bott, says that people should stop believing this non-sense regarding Alzheimer’s.
Since our brains are affected by various things, including dietary choices, we can indeed prevent the development of Alzheimer’s. Lifestyle changes such as diet, social engagement, physical activities, cognitive engagement, and even solving crossword puzzles can prevent Alzheimer’s.
And not just Alzheimer’s but other brain-related conditions, too.
People with Alzheimer’s are irritable
Those who live with someone with Alzheimer’s are scared by this myth. Some people say that patients with Alzheimer’s are aggressive and irritable… Well, there might be a grain of truth in this myth, but the words used are definitely misleading.
Because Alzheimer’s causes changes in personality, some patients become more irritable than usual. But it’s important to understand that not all patients have this in common. The owner of By Your Side Home Care, Scott Knoll, says that they take care of many Alzheimer’s disease patients, and the thing they have in common is frustration.
Frustration comes due to memory loss and confusion, so if your loved one has Alzheimer’s, try to remain calm when he/she experiences mood swings.
“No one in my family had/has Alzheimer’s, so I don’t need to worry about it.”
Well… that’s not true. Even if no one in your family had Alzheimer’s, it doesn’t mean you couldn’t develop it. A neuroscientist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Edmund and Lily Safra Center for Brain Science, Hermona Soreq, says that this is a commonly spread myth about Alzheimer’s.
She explains that although some individuals inherit mutations that can lead to this disease, this happens quite rarely. Most Alzheimer’s disease patients developed this condition due to an unhealthy lifestyle, not because of genetics.
The author of Outsmarting Alzheimer’s, Kenneth S. Kosik, MD, says that we are actually all at risk of developing Alzheimer’s, adding that after age 85, there’s a 50 percent chance of getting it.
There are certain supplements that can prevent Alzheimer’s
There are virtually no studies that prove the ability of certain supplements and vitamins to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. The chief scientific officer at Clover Health, Dr. Kumar Dharmarajan, notes that the only things that could indeed minimize the risk of developing Alzheimer’s are frequent physical activity, heart-friendly diets, and, of course, the good management of chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure.
So, no herbal products, medications, vitamins, or supplements could prevent Alzheimer’s, but certain lifestyle changes (like those we’ve mentioned earlier) could, and even then, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be Alzheimer’s-free.
Alzheimer’s is a normal part of aging
Although we’ve already highlighted this myth, we want to debunk it, as well. Dr. Krystal L. Culler, DBH, says that the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease could actually start in your mid-twenties. So you don’t have to be in your sixties to develop Alzheimer’s.
The disease can strike at any time; however, the risk increases as you age. Still, the disease doesn’t affect the elderly alone. Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, MD, points out they have patients with early-onset Alzheimer’s, with the symptoms manifesting in people in their 30s.
So, please don’t assume that Alzheimer’s disease solely affects the elderly.
Alzheimer’s disease medications can stop disease progression
Some people just refuse to understand that the medications for Alzheimer’s disease are just for alleviating the disease’s symptoms, not for stopping the progression of the disease. Even if medicine nowadays has advanced a lot, we still don’t have a cure for Alzheimer’s.
There’s no approved supplement or medication to stop the progression of the disease. Dr. Culler says that the current medications that are actually approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are used just to TREAT the Alzheimer’s disease-related symptoms.
The only thing Alzheimer’s disease patients can do is relieve their symptoms.
Visiting/talking to someone with Alzheimer’s is pointless
If someone in your family has Alzheimer’s and you think that visiting him/her is actually pointless because they won’t remember you, you’re wrong. A Health and Wellness Expert for Maple Holistics, Caleb Backe, notes that Alzheimer’s disease affects people in different ways.
Plus, just because your family member doesn’t recognize/remember you, it doesn’t mean he/she is not conscious of emotional recognition. In fact, all doctors recommend maintaining a good relationship with a friend/family member who has Alzheimer’s disease.
In most cases, it benefits both sides.
Alzheimer’s can only be treated after a diagnosis
Another myth regarding Alzheimer’s… Some people think that this disease can only be treated after a diagnosis. Well, it’s not true, at least not now. In the not-so-distant past, doctors and health pros used to think that there was nothing you could do about Alzheimer’s until its symptoms and signs started to appear.
Dr. Kosik points out that due to medical advances, new studies have emerged. That’s why doctors now believe that the best time to fight Alzheimer’s disease is before the occurrence of its early symptoms and signs. Now doctors know that Alzheimer’s plaques actually begin to appear 10 (sometimes even 20 years) before the first symptom of Alzheimer’s.
Unlike other diseases, Alzheimer’s disease tends to develop gradually and slowly. It’s our job (or our family members’ job) to spot Alzheimer’s symptoms as soon as they appear in order to slow and alleviate the progression of its symptoms.
But… we certainly cannot do that when we still believe certain myths about this disease. Stay informed and ask your doctor about everything you might doubt about Alzheimer’s disease. The rate of progression for Alzheimer’s disease could be improved if you would only stop believing in certain ideas.
This is a great book that can help anyone who takes care of a patient who suffers from Alzheimer’s.
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