Even with the growing library of materials on Alzheimer’s disease, there are still a lot of misconceptions about how Alzheimer’s is developed, how it affects people and whether or not you can prevent the disease. To help clarify some of the more commonly believed Alzheimer’s myths, here are a few of the truths:
Myth: Dad remembers many stories from childhood, so he can’t have Alzheimer’s disease.
Truth: Alzheimer’s disease affects recent memories first, so memories of the more distant past may be remembered for much longer into the development of the disease. This helps to explain why someone recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease can often recall stories from his or her past quite well.
In addition, someone with Alzheimer’s has good days and bad days, sometimes appearing to come “back to normal” for short periods.
Myth: Alzheimer’s only affects people over 65.
Truth: A particularly rare form of Alzheimer’s disease called early-onset Alzheimer’s can affect adults as young as their 30s, although most commonly it affects adults in their 50s and older.
Myth: Most people with Alzheimer’s don’t realize they are losing their memories.
Truth: Most people with the disorder are aware that they’re experiencing memory lapses or that they’re starting to have trouble doing once familiar tasks. Whether they recognize it as Alzheimer’s is another matter. As the disease progresses and symptoms worsen, awareness of the situation is likely to decline.
Myth: My mom has Alzheimer’s, so I’m likely to get it too.
Truth: Having a parent or sibling with Alzheimer’s does slightly increase the risk for developing the disease, but it doesn’t mean that it is likely. Specific forms of Alzheimer’s disease are more likely to run in families: for example, familial Alzheimer’s disease, an early-onset type that accounts for fewer than ten percent of Alzheimer’s cases. More common forms of the disease, those with a “late onset,” do not demonstrate a clear pattern of heredity.
Myth: You can prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Truth: There is no known way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease because the ultimate cause is not yet known. You can, however, try to reduce your risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease. Factors associated with higher risk that you can try to avoid include heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, head injury, smoking and alcohol consumption.
The care experts at Heaven at Home can help your family debunk Alzheimer’s myths and learn how to better care for your loved one. To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease or to find out about how our in-home care services can benefit a person with Alzheimer’s, contact Heaven at Home today.