Alzheimer’s disease affects people worldwide and because of that many common myths have developed about Alzheimer’s disease that are not true. Family caregivers should make sure that they know what is true and what is not so that they know what signs to look for in their loved ones if they have or might be developing Alzheimer’s disease. In this article we would like to offer some information for family caregivers about common myths related to the Alzheimer’s disease.
The first common myth is that Alzheimer’s disease can be prevented. Many studies have found that people who live a healthy lifestyle often have a lower risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease, but researchers still are not sure if a healthy lifestyle is what caused the lower risk or if it was just a coincidence that people who had a certain lifestyle did not develop the disease. Maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, staying socially active and keeping the mind engaged with activities are commonly suggested as preventative measures, but there is no evidence to support the claims that these activities will help lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. These activities can provide seniors with a better quality of life though so they can still be beneficial to seniors even if they do not prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Many people also believe that dietary supplements will help protect the brain from Alzheimer’s disease but this has not been proven either. Researchers have studied several common dietary supplements and have yet to find one that actually works in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease so family caregivers should keep this in mind before trying to add dietary supplements to their loved one’s daily routine.
The second myth is that memory loss is normal. As we age our mind and body get slower; with that said, seniors should still be able to remember things if they are not suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Short term memory loss usually occurs before long term memory loss so family caregivers should look for this sign in their loved ones if they believe that they might have Alzheimer’s disease. As the disease progresses long term memory loss can occur and seniors might start forgetting names and places that they used to know as well. Family caregivers should be aware that this is not caused simply from aging and should take their loved one to the doctor.
The third common myth is that Alzheimer’s disease only affects elderly people. Most people who have Alzheimer’s disease are over 65, but people as young as 20 can get the disease as well. It is not very common for people that young to develop Alzheimer’s disease but it can happen; family caregivers should keep an eye on their other family members even if they are younger. Early onset Alzheimer’s disease most commonly occurs in those that are in their 40s or 50s and displays the same symptoms as Alzheimer’s disease just in a younger population. Similar to Alzheimer’s disease there is no way to prevent early onset Alzheimer’s disease but it is less common than Alzheimer’s disease in older adults.
Another common myth is that Alzheimer’s disease is genetic. Having relatives with Alzheimer’s disease can increase your risk of developing the disease but it does not guarantee that you will develop the disease. Researchers have found a gene that they call a “risk gene” called APOE-e4 but they are still not sure how this gene contributes to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or if there are other genes involved that help to increase the risk. As of right now researchers say that having a family history of Alzheimer’s disease only increases your risk of developing the disease very slightly and they do not believe that it is the main factor that leads to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
The final myth on our list is that the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can be reversed. Many people believe that the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can be reversed with treatment however this is not true. Treatment can often help manage the symptoms and slow the progression of the disease but there is no way to reverse the symptoms yet or cure the disease. Even though the symptoms cannot be reversed, family caregivers should still make sure that their loved ones seek treatment as proper treatment can help seniors maintain their independence longer and enjoy a better quality of life as the disease progresses if their symptoms are managed and they are able to slow the progression of the disease.
Family caregivers should make sure that they know everything they can about Alzheimer’s disease and do enough research so that they can separate the truth from common myths and provide the best possible care for their loved ones.