Myths about dementia are damaging and unfortunately abundant. There are many common misunderstandings about Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, each of which poses a serious problem by deterring people from getting properly evaluated and treated. In a previous article, we discussed and debunked two of the most damaging myths associated with the early diagnosis of dementia (the false beliefs that it is a normal part of aging and that nothing can be gained from an early diagnosis). Here, we follow suit by examining two other common fallacies that are also likely to be sources of unnecessary suffering.
Myth 3: Dementia Testing is Only Important for Elderly People
It is true that some forms of dementia, like Lewy body dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, are more common in old age. However, there are early-onset versions of these conditions, along with entirely different forms of dementia (like frontotemporal dementia) that may develop in the younger stages of adulthood. The most important fact to take from this information is that all adults should be regularly screened for the early signs of dementia. Unfortunately, few people recognize this need.
Myth 4: It is Inconvenient to Take Part in Regular Dementia Testing
The screening process for early signs of dementia is quick and simple. Currently, the only form of effective testing is a cognitive examination administered by a trained professional (usually a family doctor). While a few variations of the evaluation are in use, most consist of a few written questions that can be completed in just 15 to 30 minutes. The process should be repeated every 6 months to make sure that no symptoms have developed over time.
For many people, taking part in a quick test twice a year is not a lot to ask. However, it is true that others face a variety of access barriers that could make attending medical appointments difficult, impractical, or even impossible. Physical and psychological limitations can play a huge role in preventing people from being assessed in person by professionals. Travel logistics can also be a nightmare for people without vehicles or who need to arrange for babysitters. Lastly, but perhaps most devastating, is the fact that many people cannot be tested because they do not have access to a professional in their area.
The barriers discussed above (and others) are real problems that can prevent people from attending appointments and being assessed for the early signs of dementia. However, there is a convenient option available for anyone who cannot (or would rather not) be tested in person. The BrainTest® app is a downloadable tool that provides immediate access to a professional evaluation for the early signs of dementia. Users of the app can quickly complete cognitive tests in the comfort of their own home, and the results are sent to them within a few days in the form of a helpful video explanation. So, while there are certainly legitimate reasons that could prevent someone from attending a doctor’s appointment, there is no reason that anyone should think of dementia testing as being inconvenient.
Conclusion: When in Doubt, Ask a Professional
The four myths we have discussed and debunked are only a few examples of the many common misunderstandings that can prevent people from being properly assessed for the early signs of dementia. It can be surprisingly easy to mistake a myth for a fact when the idea is presented convincingly. Accordingly, speaking directly with a medical professional is the best way to make sure you have an accurate understanding of dementia (or any medical condition). In the meantime, we hope that the information we have discussed can help to dispel a few of the more common and dangerous myths about the detection of early dementia signs.