Dispelling myths about memory loss for World Alzheimer's Day
September 21 is World Alzheimer’s Day, a day of recognition aimed at increasing awareness of and understanding the issues faced by people living with Alzheimer’s. Though there are many conditions that can cause memory loss, Alzheimer’s is one of the most common — it is estimated that 5.4 million Americans are living with the condition, most of whom are over the age of 65.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, a term that collectively refers to the loss of cognitive functions such as thinking, remembering, and reasoning. While medical experts have known about Alzheimer’s for a long time, it is a condition that was only recently understood and still has many myths associated with it. Below, we take a closer look at some common Alzheimer’s myths and share some facts that are important to know.
Myth: Only older people get Alzheimer’s disease
It is true that age is the greatest known risk factor for Alzheimer’s, but it is not the only one. Most people will begin to develop Alzheimer’s symptoms around their mid-60s or later, but some can begin to experience Alzheimer’s as early as their 30s. This is called early-onset Alzheimer’s, and impacts less than 10% of people with the disease.
Myth: It’s not possible to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s
Though there is no proven way to prevent the disease, researchers believe that practicing healthy lifestyle habits makes the biggest contribution to reducing the risk factors for Alzheimer’s. Regular exercise, healthy eating, and good sleep have all been shown to stave off Alzheimer’s, and some evidence suggests that regularly learning new things may help as well.
Myth: Alzheimer’s disease has no treatment
While there are currently no medications available that are known to cure Alzheimer’s, there are treatments that are able to slow the progression of the disease. This is why an early Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be so valuable, as patients can receive access to therapies after they are diagnosed.
Myth: There’s no way to help move Alzheimer’s research forward
Clinical trials are continually occurring to look for new ways to cure, treat, and prevent Alzheimer’s disease, and many clinical trials are in need of healthy volunteers to take part. People who have not been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s but have experienced memory loss or mild cognitive impairment may be needed for research as well, which means many people can take a part in advancing what we know about this condition.
Myth: Alzheimer’s impacts everyone equally
It’s true that anyone can be impacted by Alzheimer’s disease, but data has shown that African-Americans are nearly twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s, and that the risk is higher for the Hispanic population as well. Additionally, women of any ethnicity are more likely to be impacted by Alzheimer’s — both due to a higher chance of diagnosis and because women are more likely to be caregivers of an older relative.
If you’re interested in advancing research in honor of World Alzheimer’s Day, enrolling in a clinical trial is a fantastic opportunity to do so. Click the button below to see what options are available.