Many consider Alzheimer’s to be one of the scariest diseases out there. It can be frightening for those with the condition, and for their loved ones. Unfortunately, there are numerous misconceptions about Alzheimer’s disease. Here are eight of those myths.
Myth #1: Memory loss is a normal part of aging.
Some memory loss — like forgetting where your keys are — is normal when aging. But Alzheimer’s symptoms — like disorientation and forgetting things that affect your daily life — are not normal, according to WebMD. The Alzheimer's Association states that Alzheimer's causes brain cells to breakdown and ultimately die.
Myth #2: You can get tested for Alzheimer's disease.
Not true. There is no test that diagnoses Alzheimer’s disease. Doctors diagnose it by ruling out all the other possible causes for the symptoms, according to Everyday Health.
Myth #3: Alzheimer's disease isn't fatal.
Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Unfortunately there is no cure. Most commonly, people diagnosed with the disease live another eight to 10 years. As Alzheimer’s progresses, they can forget to eat or drink, and some may also develop breathing problems that may lead to pneumonia.
Myth #4: Only old people get Alzheimer’s.
Medical Daily reports that most people diagnosed with the disease are 65 or older. Why the risk increases with age is unknown. However, about 1 in 20 cases happen to people before age 65. They can be in their thirties or forties.
Myth #5: Alzheimer’s is caused by aluminum, aspartame, flu shots or silver tooth fillings.
WebMD states that there’s no scientific evidence to support that aluminum causes Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer's Association reports that public health agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration, say amalgam (the material in silver fillings for dental work) is safe. Since 2006, the FDA has seen no scientific evidence to alter its decision that aspartame is also safe.
Kevin Duff, Ph.D., at the University of Utah Center for Alzheimer's Care, Imaging and Research, told Everyday Health, “There’s actually more evidence to say that older adults who get the flu shot are at decreased risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease and definitely at decreased risk for death and other medical problems.”
Myth #6: Medications can stop Alzheimer's disease.
Certain prescription medications can treat Alzheimer's symptoms and slow down the disease for up to one year, but as mentioned, there’s no cure. Furthermore the medications don’t help everyone. Only about one in three people benefit from the treatment.
Myth #7: Alzheimer’s runs in families.
It’s true that genetics have a role in an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. But researchers now say that there may be a link between Alzheimer’s disease and health conditions as well as lifestyle choices. Things such as diabetes, head trauma, heart disease and high blood pressure may be possible factors, according to Medical Daily.
Myth #8: Depression causes Alzheimer's disease.
“Depression and Alzheimer’s disease can be related to one another but there’s no evidence that depression causes Alzheimer’s disease. Instead, depression may occur with symptom onset because people fear that their changing abilities signal dementia,” Duff told Everyday Health.
Reviewed November 30, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith
"Alzheimer's Myths." Alz.org/. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2016.
Mayer Robinson, Kara. "5 Alzheimer's Disease Myths: Risk Factors, Memory Loss, Prevention, and More." WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2016.
Olson, Samantha. "Alzheimer's Disease: 5 Common Myths And Facts, From Risk Factors To Stages Of Life. Medicaldaily.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2016.
Vann, MPH, Madeline. "11 Myths About Alzheimer's Disease." Everydayhealth.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2016.