Directly or through a family member, Alzheimer’s disease in some way affects nearly every person in the world. It is severe mental disease misunderstood for many years and many people attribute myths to the ailment. Only within the past few years has it been accepted as a disease and not just a result of aging. In our assisted living community in Montgomery, we see its effect first-hand. To aid in understanding, here are five common myths about Alzheimer’s.
Myth #1: Dementia is Alzheimer’s
Truth: While everyone with Alzheimer’s has dementia, there are many different kinds of dementia. Dementia is a common term for a progressively disabling disease that creates and worsens cognitive decline. Alzheimer’s is the most common disease to cause dementia, and it makes up about 60 to 80 percent of all dementia cases. While some mental problems can be prevented with supplements or mental exercise, there is no scientific proof that vitamins or other substances can dramatically prevent dementia and/or Alzheimer’s.
Myth #2: Alzheimer’s Is a Natural Step in Aging That Happens to Everyone
Truth: While often age related, Alzheimer’s is not caused by age alone. Only certain people get Alzheimer’s as they age because it is a disease and not the aging breakdown of the brain as was the general consensus before. Alzheimer’s happens when the proteins of the amyloid-beta in the brain form plaque and tangle, thus muddling brain function which then causes cognitive decline. High risk individuals are advanced in age or have a family history of Alzheimer’s, but that does not mean it should be considered a normal part of the aging process. It’s also important to note that it is not all about genetics. No single gene is linked to the development of the disease and so it is not a given occurrence is found in your family.
Myth #3: Alzheimer’s is Severe from the Start
Truth: Most patients are not diagnosed with the disease until they have been suffering from it for several years. The symptoms normally begin so small that many people mistake them for normal aging issues. On average, Alzheimer’s 10 years to slowly develop and take over the brain functions thus a victim may show little more than what is expected at their age. Learn about five possible symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
Myth #4: There Is a Cure
Truth: Several medical prescriptions have been approved by the FDA to treat symptoms of Alzheimer’s. However, no known drug has been discovered that can cure the disease, only slow or reduce its effects. Scientists are working hard every day to try to find a cure. Scientists recently found the origin for Alzheimer’s, and the Senate just increased the budge on its research, so hopefully a cure will be found for this disease soon.
Myth #5: Alzheimer’s is Increasing
Truth: Quite the contrary, the percentage of aging adults who have the disease and dementia has declined in years of late. There are more patients because of the baby boomers, and thus, the total number of cases is growing with the older population. With expanding knowledge on these types of mental diseases, doctors now diagnose people earlier than they did in the past. Quicker diagnosis in recent years is also an inflation of the numbers.