If you’re like most people, you’ve probably heard all kinds of contradictory information and myths about Alzheimer’s and dementia. Everything from how your diet and dementia are related, to ways to prevent Alzheimer’s, to various dementia treatments.
So which ones are true, and which ones aren’t? Read on for all the information you need about some of the most commonly misunderstood facts about Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Myth 1: Diet soda causes dementia
There is a lot of chatter about whether there’s a tie between diet soda and dementia. Research conducted in 2017 found that participants who consumed at least one artificially-sweetened beverage a day (like diet soda), were 3x more likely to have dementia than those who drank less than one of these drinks per week.
These findings alone are not enough to establish causation, but do suggest that diet soda may not be as healthy as people think. So in short, while there does seem to be a connection between drinking diet soda and the development of dementia, there’s not conclusive evidence that proves diet soda causes dementia.
Myth 2: Only elderly people can get dementia
Dementia and Alzheimer’s are generally seen as diseases that develop late in life, typically for those in their 70’s or older. While it is true that age is the largest risk factor for these memory impairments, it is NOT true that only elderly people can be diagnosed with dementia.
Early-onset dementia can actually occur in individuals much younger, in their 30’s or 40’s. Dementia may be seen as an “old person’s disease”, but it is prevalent in people of all ages.
Myth 3: Dementia and Alzheimer’s are the same
This may be the most widely believed of all the myths on this list: That Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are the same thing. But they are not: Alzheimer’s is a specific type of dementia.
So when it comes to dementia vs. Alzheimer’s, what are the differences? Most importantly, dementia is a more general term. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, and actually accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases. While dementia can encompass people with mild, moderate, and severe memory impairments, Alzheimer’s cases tend to be more on the serious side.
Another major one of the dementia and Alzheimer’s differences is the area of the brain impacted. Dementia can come in many forms, while Alzheimer’s tends to impact the part of the brain that is in charge of learning first.
Myth 4: You can prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia
Many people wonder, “Can you prevent Alzheimer’s?” Unfortunately, there is currently no known way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. However, there are lifestyle changes you can implement at any stage of life to lower your risk of developing a memory impairment. Staying physically active, eating healthy, and providing your brain with enough cognitive stimulation can all protect against, although not prevent, Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Myth 5: You can cure Alzheimer’s and dementia
The final common question people ask about dementia is if there is a cure for Alzheimer’s. The answer: No, there is currently no known cure for Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
While there is no known Alzheimer’s or dementia cure, there are a number of effective treatments available. There are pharmaceutical treatments that have been approved for various specific forms of dementia. Memory care homes can also provide treatments that help to ease dementia symptoms, through methods like CST (Cognitive stimulation therapy), pet therapy, the Music & Memories program, and more.
As cases of Alzheimer’s and dementia continue to rise, more and more information becomes available about these memory impairments. We hope this article has helped clear up some of the misinformation and common misconceptions about Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Do you have a loved one living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia? Dolan Memory Care Homes are experts in the field of person-first memory care. Our team cares deeply about each and every resident in our homes, and uses the latest dementia research to ensure everyone is receiving the best possible memory care. You can learn more about our homes and our approach to memory care at https://dolancare.com/care-approach/.