5 Misconceptions about Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer's Disease Misconceptions
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Unfortunately, there is still a lot of confusion surrounding Alzheimer’s disease, and much of the information out there is incorrect. To ensure the proper care of those with the condition, it’s vital that everyone becomes better informed to help unravel the misinformation. Here are the top five misconceptions concerning Alzheimer’s disease.

1. Alzheimer’s is only a disease of the elderly

It is a myth that Alzheimer’s only affects seniors. Even though half of the people older than 85 are more susceptible to the disease and a majority of those with Alzheimer’s are over 65, there are cases of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease in individuals ranging from their 30’s into their early 60’s. Early-onset Alzheimer’s cases affect approximately 10% of those suffering the disease. It is true that the elderly are more likely to suffer the disease, but it also afflicts younger people.

Aging increases the chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease. According to the National Institute of Aging, with each 5-year span beyond age 65, the number of people with the disease doubles. Alzheimer’s is a global health concern with the large population of baby boomers approaching senior citizen status worldwide.

2. A person who can remember past events doesn’t have Alzheimer’s disease

Believing that your loved one does not have Alzheimer’s because they can remember past events is a common misconception. Alzheimer’s initially affects the ability to retain recent information and recent memories while memories can retain all their vivid details. It is common for recently diagnosed Alzheimer’s patients to remember and talk about specific memories as if they just occurred, which can be both surprising and troubling for those around them. Such older memories remain strong until the disease progresses further.

Due to the complex system of the brain, Alzheimer’s patients experience good and bad days. The good moments usually last for short periods, and during the early stages, many patients retain their basic social skills. These positive signs during the good days of the early stages can make it difficult to believe a loved one is suffering the disease and complicates receiving a proper diagnosis.

3. Alzheimer’s disease patients don’t recognize their symptoms

A majority of people who have Alzheimer’s disease recognize that there is something wrong at least some of the time, especially during the early stages. Problems performing familiar daily tasks and experiencing memory lapses disrupts the life of the person with Alzheimer’s and can lead to anxiety and depression. These issues vary for each person, but awareness remains in a state of flux every day. Self-awareness of the condition decreases as Alzheimer’s disease progresses.

4. Higher-educated individuals have slower memory loss

Although people with higher education than others can have higher cognitive reserves due to mental stimulation, that does not prevent Alzheimer’s disease or memory loss. Sometimes people with a higher education have the ability to adjust to new circumstances, but this does not protect against the effects of Alzheimer’s. Those suffering Alzheimer’s disease come from all socioeconomic backgrounds. However, those with higher education are usually diagnosed earlier because the individual and their family members notice changes in communication, behavior, and brain function sooner.

5. Memory loss is a natural part of aging

It is true that memory loss increases as part of normal aging, but the type of memory loss associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s is different. Age is the greatest risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease, but many people in their 90’s and above do not experience memory disorders. For the average person who is not suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, there is usually only a delay in retrieving important information and recent memories.

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