Most people have heard of Alzheimer’s, but many only know that it causes memory loss. While memory is impacted by this disease, it’s much more complex than that. It can cause a variety of challenges, including behaviors like wandering that can put a senior’s safety at risk.
Understanding how to separate fact from fiction about Alzheimer’s is important, especially for adult children caring for aging parents. Here are a few misconceptions about this disease.
#1: Alzheimer’s isn’t all that common.
False: According to Alzheimer’s Association research, just under 11% of the population age 65 and older has Alzheimer’s. By the age of 85, the percentage climbs to just over 33%.
#2: Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are the same disease.
False: Alzheimer’s is just one of many different types of dementia. It is, however, the most common form. Estimates are that it accounts for 60 to 80% of all dementia diagnoses.
#3: Alzheimer’s is hereditary.
True and False: If you’ve watched a senior loved one struggle with Alzheimer’s, it’s understandable that you would worry about potential genetic links to the disease. Though no one knows the exact cause of Alzheimer’s, the disease isn’t considered hereditary, with the exception of early-onset Alzheimer’s. Scientists do believe genes may play a role. If your parent or sibling has Alzheimer’s disease, your risk is three times greater than someone without a family history. It’s unknown if that is due to shared lifestyle factors or something else.
Early-onset Alzheimer’s does have a strong hereditary component. Research shows family history is the only known risk factor for this type of the disease.
#4: Alzheimer’s only affects the brain.
False: As a neurodegenerative disease, Alzheimer’s impacts the entire body. As the disease progresses, symptoms can include memory loss, impaired judgement, vision changes, loss of mobility, and a decline in verbal skills.
#5: Only older people develop Alzheimer’s.
False: While age does increase the risk, this disease can occur at younger ages. Early-onset, for example, can begin to develop when people are in their 30s and 40s.
#6: No one knows what causes the disease.
True: Unfortunately, researchers haven’t been able to determine what causes Alzheimer’s despite decades of hard work. Recently, a growing amount of evidence seems to show that lifestyle might play a role. By eating a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly, you may be able to lower the odds of developing Alzheimer’s. Not smoking is another way researchers think people can reduce their risk.
Memory Care Supports Quality of Life
When a family member is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, loved ones often assume their elder can no longer enjoy a good quality of life. At Heritage Senior Communities, our specialized dementia care program helps seniors with dementia live their best quality of life at every stage of the disease. By utilizing a person-centered approach to care, team members help residents with dementia work with their remaining abilities instead of focusing on those they’ve lost.
Call the community nearest you to learn more about dementia care at Heritage Senior Communities!