There are many myths and misconceptions about Alzheimer’s disease despite the fact that it affects over 10% of seniors above 65. Debunking these myths and shedding light on what this diagnosis actually means is essential for dismantling stigma and helping affected individuals get the care that they need.
7 Common Myths About Alzheimer’s Disease
- Alzheimer’s is the same thing as dementia.
- Only seniors experience this condition, and it is an inevitable part of aging.
- Alzheimer’s is untreatable.
- You can prevent cognitive degeneration with a healthy lifestyle.
- Neurodegenerative diseases only affect a person’s memory.
- An Alzheimer’s diagnosis means an immediate loss of independence.
- People with memory issues should be placed in a nursing home.
Myth #1 – Alzheimer’s & Dementia Are Synonymous
Although Alzheimer’s and dementia are often used interchangeably, they are technically different diseases. Alzheimer’s is a brain disease with unique markers and a specific mechanism of progression, whereas dementia is defined as a group of symptoms that impact memory, thinking, and behavior. Dementia can certainly be caused by Alzheimer’s disease, but there are many other potential causes, such as head injuries and strokes.
Myth #2 – Alzheimer’s Is Inevitable For Seniors
While it’s true that seniors have a higher risk of developing the condition compared to the general population, this does not mean that all seniors will inevitably develop this disease. Around 5% of people with Alzheimer’s are under the age of 65, and only 1 out of 9 seniors develop the disease (although the risk doubles every five years above age 65).
Myth #3 – Alzheimer’s Cannot Be Treated
Although it’s true that there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, there are a number of effective treatments that can help manage the symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. These may include medications such as cholinesterase inhibitors, as well as supportive therapies such as physical and occupational therapy.
Myth #4 – Cognitive Degeneration Is Easily Preventable
Even though there are many lifestyle factors that can increase a person’s risk of Alzheimer’s, such as poor diet, substance use, and lack of exercise, it is important to keep in mind that these choices alone do not cause the condition. Many of the risk factors are beyond your loved one’s control, such as genetics, depression, exposure to air pollution, and traumatic brain injuries. In other words, you should always encourage your loved one to lead a healthful lifestyle, but please understand that their illness is not their fault.
Myth #5 – Alzheimer’s Only Affects Memory
While memory loss is often the main symptom that people associate with Alzheimer’s disease, it is actually just one of many debilitating symptoms. It also affects language skills, reasoning abilities, visual perception, mood, and motor skills.
Myth #6 – Alzheimer’s Means An Immediate Loss Of Independence
Despite being a neurodegenerative condition that progresses over time, people are often still able to live independently during the early stages. With careful monitoring and proper treatment to slow the disease progression, many seniors are able to remain relatively independent for years after receiving a diagnosis.
Myth #7 – Seniors With Memory Issues Belong In Nursing Homes
Many seniors are terrified of being diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease because they don’t want their children to send them to the infamous “old folks’ home.” However, one alternative solution is assisted living for seniors with mental illness. These communities offer progressive levels of care that can evolve alongside your loved one’s changing needs, so they can maintain maximum independence for as long as possible.
Compassionate Long-Term Senior Care In Utah
Despite these misconceptions, there are many effective treatments and support options available for seniors with progressive neurological conditions. At PeachTree Place Assisted Living Community in Ogden, Ut, we specialize in providing quality long-term Alzheimer’s care tailored to the unique needs of each resident. Contact us today to schedule a tour of our neighborhood.