Published on: June 17, 2016
by Gary Calligas for The Times:
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, by the end of life, 33 percent of mature adults will have some form of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Truly, this is a very large number of people affected. However, there are still many misunderstandings and myths about dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It is very important to know more to help us better understand and care for those who live with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, both now or in the future.
Myth 1: Memory Loss is a natural part of aging
Fact: It is normal to have occasional memory problems as a person ages, such as forgetting names of persons or your car keys location. However, Alzheimer’s is more than an occasional memory loss and is a disease that causes the brain cells to malfunction and ultimately die.
Myth 2: Alzheimer’s disease is not a fatal disease.
Fact: Currently, persons with Alzheimer’s disease have not had known total remission or cure. This disease can slowly or quickly destroy brain cells and body functions.
Myth 3: Only older people can get dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
Fact: Alzheimer’s can strike people in their 30s, 40s, and even 50s. It is estimated there are 200,000 people who are younger than 65 with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease
Myth 4: Alzheimer’s and dementia are interchangeable words.
Fact: There are dozens of types of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the best known and the most frequently diagnosed type (estimated at 60 to 70 percent). There are other prevalent forms of dementia including, vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, Parkinson’s dementia and frontotemporal dementia.
Myth 5: Dementia is about memory loss.
Fact: Dementia is not just about memory loss. While memory loss is a common way to characterize various forms of dementia, it really is not accurate. Dementia impacts much more than memory. It can affect any and every part of the brain, including the person’s ability to function, stay healthy and understand the surrounding environment.
Myth 6: All types of dementia involve memory loss.
Fact: Memory loss is not universal in dementia. While memory loss is widely understood to be an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease, it is not an early sign of all types of dementia. Some types of dementia see memory loss develop later in the disease, while others never include memory loss.
Myth 7: People with dementia lose their emotional capabilities.
Fact: While dementia disables people in many ways, most types of dementia allow people to retain their emotional capabilities through the end of life. This means they still experience all human feelings: delight, fear and everything in between. They can also read others’ body language. People with dementia can consistently associate feelings with people, places and things, although they may not remember the reason for such feelings.
Myth 8: Drinking from aluminum cans or cooking with aluminum pots can cause Alzheimer’s disease
Fact: In the 1960s and 1970s, aluminum was suggested as a possible cause of Alzheimer’s disease. However, after many studies were conducted, the leading experts concluded that there exists no proof to confirm any role of aluminum in causing Alzheimer’s disease.
Myth 9: Aspartame artificial sweetener causes memory loss
Fact: The artificial sweetener, aspartame, marketed under such brand names as Nutrasweet and Equal was approved by the FDA in 1996 for use in all foods and beverages. According to the FDA, it has reviewed more than 100 laboratory and clinical studies regarding the use of aspartame, and has concluded that there exists no scientific evidence about the negative effects of the use of aspartame.
Myth 10: Flu shots increase the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
Fact: According to recent studies, flu shots and other vaccinations tend to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and to assist in a person’s overall better health.
Myth 11: Silver dental fillings increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Fact: According to recent scientific studies, there is no relationship between silver dental fillings and Alzheimer’s disease. There was some concern in the amount of mercury that is used in the mixture to make silver dental fillings, generally a mixture of 50 percent mercury, 35 percent silver, and 15 percent tin. Thus, the feeling was that mercury is a heavy metal which in certain forms is known to be toxic on the brain and other organs. However, after several studies, scientists concluded their was no current evidence showing a connection between mercury-containing dental fillings and Alzheimer’s or other neurological diseases.
It is important to know the facts about dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, so one can better interact with those family members and friends who are living with these conditions.
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