Dispelling Myths: Alzheimer’s
Most people have heard of Alzheimer’s disease, since it has become increasing relevant and diagnoses are becoming more common among people we know; this can lead to many misunderstandings about the disease and how differently it can manifest in individuals. As time has been continuing, the number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s has been increasing. Since 2000, the number of people with Alzheimer’s has increased by 89%.
With the high prevalence of the disorder and so many being affected by it in their lives, it has become more critical for us to understand the basis of Alzheimer’s, how it manifests, and how we can help those who are living with it. Here are some common misunderstandings about Alzheimer’s disease that come from our understanding of it being a common portrayal of someone elderly losing their memory.
Myth #1: A diagnosis with dementia is better than a diagnosis with Alzheimer’s.
Many people tend to confuse dementia and Alzheimer’s. While some might use the terms interchangeably, others might differentiate them as one being better than the other. However, dementia is a syndrome, a term to encapsulate a number of symptoms that often are displayed together. Dementia, in particular, refers to problems with memory, daily functioning, and communication. Dementia is commonly seen in other disorders aside from Alzheimer’s as well, like Parkinson’s disease or Huntington’s disease.
Myth #2: Only the elderly get diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Although we might generally think of the elderly and those older than 65 when talking about Alzheimer’s, there are a subset of people who experience early-onset dementia in their 40’s or 50’s. Almost 5 million people are diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. However, one’s risk for Alzheimer’s does increase with age.
Myth #3: Memory loss is a normal part of aging.
While it’s normal to forget some simple things, like where you left your keys, forgetting broader information that impacts your daily life functioning is the true symptom of memory loss seen in Alzheimer’s. There are also other common symptoms of Alzheimer’s besides memory loss including disorientation, problems with thinking or reasoning, and changes in personality or behavior.
Unfortunately, there are no concrete treatments to stop or alter the course of Alzheimer’s yet. However, there are lifestyle changes that can be made, like exercising and a healthy diet, and some medications that work to slow the progression of symptoms, but nothing has been found that can stop the progression of the disease.
If you are struggling with your mental health, or you know someone who might be struggling, please feel free to contact the professional team at Lifeline Connections for help! Getting yourself help, whether it is through self-help or by reaching out to professionals is an important part of recognizing that you are struggling; it is also a good step forward in getting the help you need. You can visit Lifelineconnections.org or call 360.397.8246 for more information.