Even though Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, there are many myths and misconceptions associated.
Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes memory loss. The disease usually progresses slowly, worsening over time. In its early stages, patients may have a change in personality, experience mood swings and become depressed or irritable. They withdraw, losing interest in activities and people, including loved ones. In later stages, patients grow less aware of their environment while their ability to function physically decreases. Eventually, the person requires full-time care. The cause is unknown, and there is no cure.
Now, knowing what Alzheimer’s is, is important but knowing what it isn’t, is equally so. Here are the top 5 common myths about the disease.
1: Only older people get Alzheimer’s.
Though, most people who develop Alzheimer’s do so after the age of 65 and no one knows why the risk increases so dramatically with age, however, ‘Early Onset Alzheimer’s’ occurs in 5% of people who have the disease, and it can appear as early as age 30.
2: Being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is a death sentence.
Most people with Alzheimer’s live from 5 to 20 years after diagnosis, with the 8 to 10 year range the most common.
In the early years, the patient experiences mild memory loss with the symptoms gradually progressing to include loss of physical and mental capacity. In later stages, people develop breathing problems leading at times to pneumonia. They can also forget to eat or drink, depriving the body of nutrients.
3: Alzheimer’s is hereditary.
Only partially true as new research has uncovered a link to lifestyle choices and health conditions such as head trauma, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. Moreover, researchers say that strategies for healthy aging, like weight control and exercise, may actually decrease chances of getting the disease.
4: There’s no hope for Alzheimer’s patients.
Learning how to live with the disease is key to continuing a meaningful life. Early diagnosis and medications can help. Moreover, patients with Alzheimer’s should seek out support groups and learn to revise life goals and how to offer and/or accept help. Patients with the disease can participate and enjoy life many years after diagnosis, in loving environments.
5: Both genders are at risk from the disease.
While both men and women can develop Alzheimer’s, almost two-thirds of people with Alzheimer’s are women. Although there are several theories about why the disease is more prevalent among women, we don’t yet have any definitive answers. The possible links between lack of estrogen after menopause and Alzheimer’s is an important field of study for researchers.