Generally speaking, Alzheimer’s disease is a topic that most of us are pretty familiar with. We know that it involves memory loss that continues to accelerate over the years. But beneath this very basic understanding, sits a general lack awareness of important details. As a result, many inaccuracies continue to get passed around.
September is World Alzheimer’s month, and it’s a good time to stop and take a moment to review what the disease is (and isn’t) and dispel any myths that only serve to further complicate an already complex illness.
First, it’s important to update yourself on the facts about Alzheimer’s. Here are five (courtesy of Healthline):
- Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia; in fact it is the most common form.
- Alzheimer’s disease currently impacts over 6 million people.
- Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S.
- Women are at a higher risk for developing Alzheimer’s. It also advances more quickly in women.
- Other health conditions can increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, sedentary lifestyle.
Just as important as understanding the facts is being aware of some common misconceptions surrounding Alzheimer’s. Here are three key Alzheimer’s myths (courtesy of Keck Medicine of USC):
- Only older people get Alzheimer’s. While it is prevalent among those 65 and older, early onset Alzheimer’s can occur in those as young as 30. It is rare, however, occurring in only 5% of Alzheimer’s cases.
- Alzheimer’s is hereditary. While genetics can play a role, research shows there are other factors, such as lifestyle choices and state of health that can impact one’s vulnerability to developing Alzheimer’s. And, in many other cases, the cause remains unknown.
- There is no hope for someone with Alzheimer’s. Early diagnosis and medications can help individuals living with Alzheimer’s continue to have meaningful lives. In a loving, caring environment, people with Alzheimier’s can continue to participate and enjoy life for several years after a diagnosis.
Now that you have some facts under your belt, you should also know that there is an abundance of resources available on Alzheimer’s, both for individuals living with the disease and for families. Here are some from the Alzheimer’s Association that you may find useful:
- The Alzheimer’s Association has a free 24/7 Helpline which answers over 300,000 calls annually. It is run by experienced professionals who can provide information as well as referrals.
- You can share your story and get some of your key questions answered through the Alzheimer’s Association online community forum.
- You can keep current on research and other topics related to dementia by visiting the Alzheimer’s Association’s extensive library of articles, books and databases. You can access it through their Alzheimer's Association Green-Field Library.
- Alzheimer’s Association chapters are located throughout the U.S. Here is the link to Find a chapter closest to you.
Our Anthem Memory Care blogs also cover a wide range of informative topics, including answering questions such as Is it Alzheimer’s or just age-related changes?, help with behavioral issues, such as “sundowning”, and ensuring that your loved one with dementia is safe. And there are many more topics you can browse by scrolling down our home page.
As with any disease, the more you know, the better prepared you are. If you are caring for an individual who you suspect may be in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, reach out to your health professionals. And don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our Anthem Memory Care communities. We’re here to help answer your questions and provide added resources.