Perhaps since Dementia is a sort of mystery, having myths around it is quite common. Many self-proclaimed experts have made researches to present world with the facts surrounding the causes of dementia.
Yet only one or two from the whole community can claim to have a good understanding of what dementia is and what are just mere myths. This lack of awareness around dementia has made that thin line between facts and myths very blurred.
As a result, families, friends and neighbours feel very awkward or they really don’t know how to behave when someone is diagnosed with dementia. They either ignore them or simply don’t do anything to support.
This often leave people suffering from dementia feeling isolated or alone within their family itself. Although, dementia is better understood now than it was a few years ago.
However, there are still some wide gaps that needs to be filled. We understand this will take a lot of research and our experts are expeditiously working upon it. While they are executing their expert minds are there, We are trying to highlight some myths that surround dementia.
It’s important to separate facts and fiction so that dementia patients are better cared and cured. Let’s bring out dementia out of the shadows and into the light help combat the stigma and isolation that people with dementia experience mostly.
By highlighting these myths we are hoping to build a better place for dementia people to live well and long.
Seven of the most popular myths surrounding dementia that have been busted over the years.
Myth #1. Dementia patients have no sense of awareness
This is sadly one of the most widely used excuses not to visit our loved ones suffering from dementia. People understand dementia to be a condition that inhibits a person’s awareness, thereby limiting their communication skills, but this is not the case at all.
In fact, communication and awareness are controlled by separate parts of the brain. In most cases, awareness is left intact while communication is hampered by the disease.
So dementia patients can understand what’s going on around them, but sadly, they’re unable to relay their thoughts. And very often, a dementia patient can understand more than he can actually express. So it is important to talk to the patient directly rather than it’s carer or family members. Just give some extra time to them to collect their thoughts and express.
Myth #2. Dementia is a natural part of the aging process
It’s true dementia is a condition that affects the elderly population, but research has found that dementia is not a natural part of the aging process. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that approximately 200,000 people are living with early onset dementia in the US.
However, 9 out of 10 older people don’t develop dementia and a lot of people enter into their 80s and 90s without memory decline. Early onset often affects people in their 40s or 50s and it has different sets of challenges.
There are people in their 80s, 90s, and even past 100 that do not exhibit symptoms of dementia. There are even people as young as 30 who have shown the beginning signs of dementia.
The fact of the matter is that roughly 20% of those older than 65 years will develop and show signs of dementia. Although the possibility of developing the condition increases as you grow older, it’s not a sure thing.
Myth #3. If diagnosed, it’s game over
Most people take the news of dementia as a sort of death sentence (more on fatality later). Once you’re diagnosed, you might as well get your feelings off your chest while you’re still capable of doing so, right?
Wrong. Keep those feelings inside where they belong! Many forms of dementia are actually treatable. Some forms may develop as a natural response to a vitamin deficiency.
If left untreated, the condition can become progressively worse. It’s best that you consult with your doctor regarding possible reasons for memory loss. And yes of course, it is curable. Just have patience and be positive.
Myth #4. It’s impossible to prevent dementia
This myth goes hand-and-hand with Myth #2 about dementia being a natural part of growing older, and the idea that dementia is hereditary (spoiler: in 99% of the cases it isn’t).
It’s believed that at a certain point in time, your mind will slowly shut down and you’ll suddenly display signs of dementia. But it’s not like that we can not do anything to prevent Dementia.
However, many forms of dementia are actually preventable. With a balanced diet, enough exercise, and limiting or abstaining from harmful substances like alcohol, illicit narcotics, and fast food, you can protect your mind from the mental condition in the later stages of life.
Reading, doing puzzles, and having a social life have also been found to help ward off dementia. But most importantly, be aware of the fact that it is something that can be prevented and cured.
Myth #5. Dementia is hereditary
There is a bit of truth in this myth. There have been hundreds of reported cases about deterministic genes passing from parent to child, creating entire generations of dementia patients in their family trees.
However, an overwhelming number of cases have shown that dementia can skip generations, even leading to a child suffering from the condition whereas a parent remains mentally untouched.
One study found that a multitude of variables are in play that can contribute to developing dementia. Of these variables, roughly 90% of them were modifiable – e.g. stemmed from a certain lifestyle or diet.
Those who do not have the deterministic gene but rather an increased likelihood of developing dementia could prevent it by making permanent lifestyle changes.
Myth #6. Alzheimer’s and dementia are the same thing
Oftentimes, we hear people use “dementia” and “Alzheimer’s disease” interchangeably in conversation. They’re both conditions that are known to contribute to memory loss, so using one to mean the other is entirely understandable.
However, dementia and Alzheimer’s are completely different. Dementia is an umbrella term that is used to an array of symptoms, including memory loss, without knowing the cause.
Similar to a sore throat which may be caused by allergies, a cold, excessive shouting (another lifestyle choice), you can’t treat dementia without knowing the underlying cause. Alzheimer’s is a cause and a specific form of dementia that includes memory loss, impaired speech, and slowed thoughts.
Myth #7. “X” can cure dementia
After scouring the internet for potential cures for dementia, you’ve probably come across things like “coconut oil can cure dementia” or “this random thing can get rid of Alzheimer’s.” Whoever is telling you these things is full of it. We’re sad to tell you the harsh truth that in the current age, science has yet to find a cure for dementia.
If you or someone you know has displayed signs of dementia, check with a doctor right away to find out the cause and whether there are any measures you can take to prevent or at least decelerate its progression.
Myth #8. Dementia isn’t fatal
Dementia is mostly associated with memory loss which seems to be pretty harmless. As long as the patient is well-cared for, the patient won’t become self-destructive or succumb to their condition.
Remember how we said that Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia? Alzheimer’s is much more than just memory loss and slurred speech. Alzheimer’s causes brain damage which becomes worsened over time. Without a cure in sight, the extent of the brain damage can cause a person to fall into a coma and possibly die.
Myth #9 Memory loss means you must have Dementia
That’s absolutely absurd. Depression, stroke, vitamin deficiencies, thyroid abnormalities or even some side-effects of certain medications can be the possible reasons of memory loss along with dementia. Growing age is also a considerable factor to cause forgetfulness that we all might experience in future.
Certain forms of dementia are fatal and should be treated as quickly as possible. Schedule a check-up with your doctor if you or a loved one is displaying or at risk of developing dementia.