Myths About Alzheimer’s Disease | Reader’s Digest

Myths About Alzheimer’s Disease | Reader’s Digest

A complex neurological condition that strikes more than 5 million Americans, Alzheimer’s disease is complicated and scary. But misconceptions about Alzheimer’s risk factors and ways to prevent Alzheimer’s can stand in the way of your health.

Alzheimer and dementia are two separate things

Senior woman's handMILA Zed/Shutterstock

“You may hear people explaining that their loved one has both Alzheimer’s and dementia, when in fact, Alzheimer’s is under the ‘umbrella’ of dementia. They are not two separate things. There are over 100 different forms of dementia, each type comes with a variety of different symptoms.” —Phoebe James, the director of resident engagement at Wentworth Senior Living. This is the real difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s. 

Alzheimer’s isn’t treatable

Patient examination table in a doctors office.Fotoluminate LLC/Shutterstock

“One of the biggest myths about Alzheimer’s and related dementias is that they aren’t treatable. The brain is like any other organ, and responds positively to lifestyle changes like diet, exercise, social engagement, and puzzles/challenges.” —Nick Bott, Psy.D.

All people who have Alzheimer’s disease become violent and irritable

Old people in geriatric hospice: Black doctor visiting an aged patient, holding hands of a senior woman. Concept of comfort and compassionDiego Cervo/Shutterstock

“While it is true that Alzheimer’s can cause personality changes and mood swings, not all of those changes include violent ones. As an in-home care company specializing in memory care, we tend to work with a lot of clients who are already pretty far along on their journey with this disease. More than anything, we see clients who are simply frustrated with their own memory loss and confusion. Some of the best practices for helping a loved one experiencing Alzheimer’s personality changes is to remain calm and engage in good listening.” —Scott Knoll, owner of By Your Side Home Care, an elderly in-home caregiving agency specializing in Alzheimer’s services. These everyday habits will reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s is not an inherited disease

Scientists works with cell cultures under sterile hoodTonhom1009/Shutterstock

“This is wrong at two levels. First, some people do inherit single mutations that cause this disease, although those are rare; and second, others develop it due to many small inherited risks which work together with an unhealthy lifestyle to induce this disease.” —Hermona Soreq, a neuroscientist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Edmund and Lily Sarfra Center for Brain Science.