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10 common myths about Alzheimer’s

16 February 2018

10 common myths about Alzheimer’s

There are currently over 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK today, and two thirds of these have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, making it the most common type of dementia. Despite this, there are still misconceptions surrounding the condition, and inaccuracies that are believed by many people. We’d like to put the record straight, and bust the most common myths about Alzheimer’s.

1. Alzheimer’s is just another word for dementia

The term dementia actually refers to a range of conditions and symptoms and is not a distinct disease in itself. In fact, there are various causes of dementia, such as drug interactions and vitamin deficiencies. Whilst Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia and is the most common type, they are distinctly separate things which should not be used interchangeably.

2.Alzheimer’s is a normal part of getting older

Although a certain degree of memory loss may not be uncommon as we age, the onset of Alzheimer’s disease is not a natural part of ageing. Around 40 per cent of people over the age of 65 experience a certain amount of memory loss, but this is not the same thing as being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

3. It only affects your mind

Although Alzheimer’s affects the brain, the consequences of this mean that other aspects of life can be affected too. Performing routine tasks may become more difficult, for example. As the disease progresses, you may find that you have difficulty performing physical activities, such as swallowing or walking.

4. Aluminium causes Alzheimer’s disease

Once a popular theory, the alleged link between the use of aluminium and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease has been repeatedly debunked. Similarly, there has been no causal link found between specific food items and Alzheimer’s. However, take a look at our “Foods Against Alzheimer’s” article for tips on what to eat to keep your brain healthy.

5. Alzheimer’s is always genetic

Although there can be a genetic component to Alzheimer’s disease, this doesn’t mean that you will develop the condition just because a family member is living with Alzheimer’s. Whilst a determining gene can result in close family members developing the disease, this is not the cause of every case of Alzheimer’s.

6. Head injuries cause Alzheimer’s

The true effects of serious head injuries are not yet known and, whilst it’s possible that a head injury may increase the chance of Alzheimer’s occurring, this has yet to be proven. Currently, studies are examining the impact of repeated minor head injuries on the development of various forms of dementia. Once published, the results may provide more of an insight into whether Alzheimer’s can be triggered by physical head injuries, but for now there is no confirmed link.

7. Alzheimer’s causes violent tendencies

Unfortunately, many people assume that anyone with Alzheimer’s is violent or aggressive but this just isn’t the case. Whilst some people may show signs of aggression, this is normally caused by frustration or fear. Facilitating effective care and maintaining routines can help to remove this fear and, therefore, the risk of aggression or frustration.

8. People living with Alzheimer’s can’t enjoy life

This is, perhaps, one of the biggest myths surrounding the disease and it certainly does not reflect most people’s experiences with Alzheimer’s. Although the condition may worsen over time, millions of people with Alzheimer’s still live rewarding, fun and stimulating lives.

9. Alzheimer’s only affects older people

The majority of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s are over 65 years of age but this doesn’t mean that younger people don’t develop the condition. In fact, early onset Alzheimer’s accounts for around 40,000 cases in the UK today.

10. Alzheimer’s disease can be fully treated

Currently, there isn’t a cure for Alzheimer’s disease and the condition can’t be reversed. However, there are effective ways of managing the effects of Alzheimer’s. Providing a stable environment for people living with Alzheimer’s and helping them to stay active, for example, is highly beneficial.

Despite the myths surrounding the disease, many people with Alzheimer’s continue to lead to a functional and enjoyable life. Whilst they may require additional assistance, there is no reason for people living with Alzheimer’s to stop enjoying and participating in their everyday lives.

Find out how we support our residents living with dementia to live enjoyable, fulfilling and stimulating lives here.