6 myths about alzheimer’s disease

November 15, 2021

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s you may want to conduct research to learn more about the disease, but there are many myths and inaccuracies associated with that condition.

Here are some of the most common misconceptions about Alzheimer’s.

Myth #1: Memory Loss is Part of Aging

Forgetfulness is common as we age. However, there’s a difference between struggling to find the right word and being unable to hold a conversation altogether. Alzheimer’s is not considered a normal part of the aging process because it’s a degenerative disease that alters brain function.

Alzheimer’s affects the ability to form and recall memories. It also changes thinking patterns and impacts problem-solving skills, impeding the ability to complete daily tasks.

Myth #2: Alzheimer’s and Dementia Are the Same Thing

Dementia is a term that includes a variety of abnormal brain conditions. It’s used to describe a group of diseases that affect memory, thinking and social abilities. They include vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia and mixed dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. It’s categorized by beta-amyloid plaques and tangles that clump between the brain’s neurons, damaging healthy brain cells and disrupting communication.

Myth #3: Only Old People Get Alzheimer’s

While Alzheimer’s is most prevalent in people 65 and older, there is a condition known as early-onset Alzheimer’s that can affect people in their 40s and 50s.

Researchers aren’t certain of the cause of early-onset Alzheimer’s, but it’s believed to be an inherited genetic mutation of the disease. It’s more aggressive and often leads to a more rapid decline in cognitive ability.

Myth #4: Alzheimer’s Only Affects Your Mind

Your brain controls everything your body does, so anything inhibiting its function will impact your physical health as well. Since Alzheimer’s usually damages the area of the brain responsible for forming memories, it can affect a person’s ability to remember to eat, exercise and take medication.

Communication skills can also be impacted by Alzheimer’s. Sufferers may struggle to notice and express their ailments as memory loss progresses, and that can prove fatal.

Physical changes associated with Alzheimer’s include:

  • Muscle stiffness or weakness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Difficulty standing or sitting
  • Trouble sleeping or a change in sleep patterns
  • Incontinence
  • Seizures or uncontrollable twitches

Myth #5: Alzheimer’s is Hereditary

Genetics can influence the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s, but just because your mother or father had it doesn’t mean you will too. Lifestyle choices and health conditions influence your risk for Alzheimer’s, especially if you have diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure or have suffered head trauma.

Myth #6: There’s Nothing You Can Do to Prevent Alzheimer’s

Take steps to protect your cognitive health and lower your risk for Alzheimer’s as you age.

Eat brain food: There are a variety of foods that provide brain-boosting nutrients to help keep your mind healthy. They include green leafy vegetables, fatty fish, dark-colored berries, seeds and nuts.

Get aerobic exercise: Activities that get your blood pumping support your brain. Aerobic exercises like walking, jogging, cycling, hiking and swimming get oxygen to your brain more efficiently.

Quit smoking: Nicotine negatively affects the brain’s structural integrity and increases the risk for memory loss. Smoking also lowers blood oxygen levels, which is bad for brain health.

Set a sleep schedule: A good night’s sleep strengthens central neural connections, supporting long-term memory consolidation. Your brain also clears out toxins faster while you sleep through cerebrospinal fluid, including beta-amyloid plaques.

At Embassy Healthcare, we strive to include personal touches in our dementia care to provide your loved one with a sense of comfort and security, while supporting their cognitive health. Call 216-378-2050 or contact us online to learn about our memory care facilities.