Alzheimer’s disease affects nearly every person in the United States, either directly or through a loved one. It is a disease that has been misunderstood for many years. Only recently has it been accepted as a disease and not just a natural part of aging, as many people previously thought. Here are five common myths about Alzheimer’s.
Myth #1: Alzheimer’s and Dementia Are the Same
Truth: Everyone with Alzheimer’s has dementia, but there are several different kinds of dementia. Dementia is a general term for any progressively disabling disease that causes cognitive decline. Alzheimer’s is its own disease, and it is the most common type of dementia. It makes up about 60 to 80 percent of all dementia cases.
Myth #2: Alzheimer’s Is a Natural Part of Aging That Happens to Everyone
Truth: Alzheimer’s is usually an age-related illness, but not always. Not everyone will get Alzheimer’s as they age, because it is a disease and not simply the natural breakdown of the brain because of aging, as many once thought. Alzheimer’s occurs when the amyloid-beta proteins in the brain form plaques and tangles, thus disrupting brain function and causing cognitive decline. If you are advanced in age or you have a family history of Alzheimer’s, you are at a higher risk for developing the disease, but it should not be considered a healthy, natural part of the aging process.
Myth #3: Alzheimer’s Starts Strong
Truth: Most people are not diagnosed with Alzheimer’s until they have had the disease for several years. The symptoms usually start off small and are often times confused for normal age-related changes. Alzheimer’s takes an average of 10 years to slowly evolve and take over the brain, so for the first few years, a person with Alzheimer’s may show very few signs and symptoms. Learn about five symptoms of Alzheimer’s to keep an eye on.
Myth #4: There Is a Cure for Alzheimer’s
Truth: Several prescription medications have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, but currently, no drug has been found that can cure the disease. Scientists are working hard every day to try to find a cure. Scientists recently found the “ground zero” for Alzheimer’s in the brain, and the senate just approved the largest increase in Alzheimer’s research funding to date, so hopefully we will find a cure for this disease soon. Read about more recent breakthroughs and discoveries in the fight against Alzheimer’s.
Myth #5: Alzheimer’s Is on the Rise
Truth: The percentage of older adults who have Alzheimer’s and dementia has actually declined in the last few years, but because of the baby boomers, the older adult population is increasing worldwide, and therefore, the number of Alzheimer’s cases is increasing with the population. With new knowledge of these types of diseases, doctors are now able to diagnose people earlier than they used to in the past. Because people are being diagnosed sooner, the number of people with Alzheimer’s appears to be growing even though it is not.