When it comes to dementia, there are plenty of myths which blur the reality of this disease, creating more questions than answers. Although plenty of research still needs to be conducted, there are some myths that are clearly not true. The following eight myths are explained below.
Myth #1: Individuals affected by dementia cannot communicate what they want
Do you know someone who has had a stroke and seem to know what they want to say, yet can’t get the words out? Dementia is often the same, in that people often know what they want, they just cannot communicate their thoughts effectively. If you are caring for someone with dementia, patience is critical.
As this disease progresses, communication becomes significantly affected. You will need to work towards understanding what your loved one’s likes and dislikes are. Many find that keeping track of poor behavior and stress help determine possible triggers.
Myth #2: Dementia occurs due to a normal pattern of aging
Yes, dementia is more common amongst the elderly population, however, it is not a natural part of aging. There are plenty of individuals in their 80s and 90s who do not display symptoms of dementia. If this myth were reality, everyone would be senile. The truth is, approximately 10 to 20 percent of the population 65 years or older develop this disease. The rates increase with age, however, not everyone is affected.
Myth #3: Only seniors develop dementia
Although dementia is much more common amongst seniors, there are cases which have developed in individuals as young as 30. If someone suffers from a brain injury, for instance, this could cause dementia. With so many possible causes, individuals are affected as varying ages. Approximately 5 to 10 percent of those who develop Alzheimer’s are diagnosed with early-onset, typically developing in one’s 50s.
Myth #4: Once you’re diagnosed, you can’t do anything to help yourself
There is no cure for most forms of dementia, however, there are some which are treatable. Vitamin deficiencies can cause dementia and once this addressed, it is often reversible. For the most part, dementia is progressive in nature, getting worse as time passes. There are treatment plans that can help target symptoms and following a balanced lifestyle can improve one’s quality of life.
Myth #5: There’s nothing you can do to prevent dementia
Research suggests that there’s plenty you can do to reduce your risk of dementia, starting with an active and healthy lifestyle. Eating a balanced diet full of nutrient-rich foods, regularly exercising, readings, maintaining social interaction, managing stress, and not smoking all play a role in protecting yourself.
Myth #6: Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are the same thing
This is a very common misunderstanding, as Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia. You can have Alzheimer’s and dementia, but just because you have dementia, doesn’t mean you suffer from Alzheimer’s. Dementia is simply an umbrella term used to describe the symptoms that lead to cognitive impairment due to numerous other conditions.
When living with Alzheimer’s, you experience symptoms of dementia, but so do some individuals with Parkinson’s, as well as those with vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, and other related conditions.
Myth #7: If someone suffers from memory loss, then they have dementia
It’s possible to suffer from age-related memory loss without having a condition such as dementia. Once reaching your senior years, it’s normal to experience a slight decline in your memory. In order to be diagnosed with dementia, you need to display multiple symptoms, not just suffer from brief memory loss.
Myth #8: Dementia isn’t a fatal condition
Depending on the condition in which you suffer from and what stage you are currently experiencing, dementia can most certainly be fatal. In the earlier stages, individuals are often able to maintain an ideal balance between reliance and independence.
Dementia Support. (2015). Dementia Myths. Dementia Support. Retrieved from http://www.dementiasupport.ca/alzheimers-disease-and-dementia/dementia-myths/