No one wants to face the reality that they or a loved one may be suffering from Alzheimer's disease. But if someone in your family has experienced dramatic forgetfulness, early treatment can make a huge difference in their life. Alzheimer's is a deterioration of the brain that affects one out of every eight people over the age of 65. It is important to understand common misconceptions about the condition.
- "Alzheimer's is curable."
If your loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer's, their symptoms are not going to go away or improve. Most Alzheimer's patients die of other causes, because 90% are elderly. But eventually, Alzheimer's can be fatal, and medication can't lessen the effects.
- "Alzheimer's isn't preventable."
While it's true that predicting who will get Alzheimer's when they're older can be very difficult, a 2014 study by the University of Cambridge reveals there are risk factors you can avoid. Inactivity, diabetes, obesity in middle age, and smoking are at the top of the list.
- "Alzheimer's is a genetic problem."
Just because someone in your family has Alzheimer's doesn't mean you are doomed to eventually develop the condition. The 7% of cases that are related to genetics are rare familial Alzheimer's disease patients, in which the condition can set in as early as the 20s.
- "Memory loss is always Alzheimer's"
Many patients can get confused by symptoms of normal aging and symptoms of Alzheimer's. Most people have lapses in memory as they get older, and it does not necessarily mean that anything's wrong.
- "Alzheimer's affects everyone the same."
The image of an Alzheimer's patient as violent or out of control doesn't really do justice to the effects of their condition. The sudden loss of memory can be upsetting or scary, but many patients remain in tune with the world around them.
Modern medicine has made great strides in improving the quality of life for Alzheimer's patients. With love and understanding, your family can come to terms with this scary disease and help your loved one live out their days peacefully.