Being told that you have Alzheimer’s is an overwhelming and frightening event. What happens now? What support is available? A million questions race through your mind. On top of all these questions comes information that isn’t entirely true. There are plenty of myths out there, so we’d like to set the record straight regarding the five most common myths.
Myth #1: Once diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the person’s life is over
Fact: If you have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, do not automatically assume that your life will now come to an end. You can still maintain a productive, meaningful, and enjoyable life for years to come. It’s believed that doing your part in terms of a balanced lifestyle, could help slow down the progression of this disease or at least improve select symptoms. That means, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, staying socially connected, and trying to manage stress levels can all improve your quality of life. There are also plenty of resources and treatments that target specific symptoms.
Myth #2: My dad had Alzheimer’s, that means I will get it
Fact: Alzheimer’s can be passed on through genetic coding, however, familial Alzheimer’s is rare, accounting for only around 5 percent of Alzheimer’s cases. For those who have been diagnosed with familial Alzheimer’s, their children can be tested to see if they carry the related gene. Therefore, the majority of cases are not believed to be based on family history. This simply increases your risk but does not guarantee that you will develop the disease as well.
Myth #3: Aluminum causes Alzheimer’s
Fact: Many are hesitant to cook in aluminum pots or eat canned food based on the notion that aluminum causes Alzheimer’s. Within the 60s and 70s, this idea began. Since then, there’s no concrete evidence that supports this theory. Since research failed to make this connection, research efforts now focus on other areas, hoping to advance in terms of a potential cure. With that being said, you should choose fresh whole foods over canned goods, based on your nutritional needs.
Myth #4: There are treatments to stop the progression of Alzheimer’s
Fact: Currently, there aren’t any treatments that offer a cure. This includes delaying the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. With that being said, there are medications that have been approved to temporarily hinder the progression of certain symptoms. These are typically effective for around 6 to 12 months. There are treatment plans that do encourage a higher quality of life, such as targeting symptoms of depression.
Myth #5: Alzheimer’s is a natural part of aging
Fact: As you age, it’s normal to experience some memory loss. Forgetting a name or an appointment happens and it’s nothing to be alarmed about. When you suffer from Alzheimer’s, memory issues are much more often and obvious. Unlike normal aging when you forget the occasional thing, Alzheimer’s is a disease within the brain. Many individuals live well into their 80s and 90s without suffering from this disease.
Alz. (2015). Memory Loss Myths & Facts. Alzheimer’s Association. Retrieved from http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_myths_about_alzheimers.asp