Alzheimer’s is a progressive neurological disease. It is the most common form of dementia, whereby the brain cells degenerate, leading to loss of memory and other cognitive skills. Many of the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s are overlooked due to misinformation about the normal process of aging. For instance, it is not uncommon to hear someone associate their age with their inability to remember things. Unfortunately, this leads to the loss of vital time that could be used to begin treatment protocols that can slow down the progression of the disease.
Here are some common myths about Alzheimer’s.
1. Alzheimer’s disease will not kill you. Actually, Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. But beyond this, Alzheimer’s robs a person of all the elements of life, even if they are still breathing. Memory loss, loss of motor abilities, severe cognitive dysfunction, eating disorders, loss of ability to connect to others, all of these drastically reduce quality of life.
2. There are drugs today to prevent or stop Alzheimer’s. Not true. Considerable research is going into developing drug protocols, but at this time, FDA-approved therapies can, at the most, delay worsening of symptoms for up to a year. They have proven to be effective for approximately half of the patients subscribed.
3. Only old people get Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is a neurological disease that is not restricted to age. People as young as 30 can exhibit symptoms of early stage Alzheimer’s. In fact of the estimated 5 million people in America with Alzheimer’s, 200,000 are under the age of 65.
4. Poor memory is a part of aging. It is true that as a person grows older, it CAN become more challenging to remember things, such as a person’s name, or the name of some city you once visited. In fact, these days, all of us struggle with recall due a vast amount of information overload. For a person with Alzheimer’s this inability to remember is much more pronounced and serious. With Alzheimer’s the brain cells that control memory slowly die, causing the patient to forget even his or her closest family members. They can become lost on the way home, forgetting a route taken for decades. It is very important to distinguish the type of memory loss you or a loved one may be experiencing as soon as possible through consultation with a qualified healthcare practitioner so that appropriate measures can be taken as quickly as possible.
5. Artificial sweeteners cause Alzheimer’s. Aspartame, commonly known as Equal or Nutrasweet, have been the subject of many health concerns. However, in spite of hundreds of clinical trials and laboratory tests, no concrete evidence has emerged to link aspartame to Alzheimer’s.
6. Risk to Alzheimer’s is increased if you have silver dental fillings. The silver used in dental fillings contains about 50% mercury. Mercury can be toxic to organs and brain cells. Therefore, some have expressed a correlation between the presence of silver fillings and Alzheimer’s disease. But, to date there has been no proof of a link, in spite of substantial research into the matter undertaken by top research universities and national health institutions.
7. Aluminum can cause Alzheimer’s. A few decades ago, some thought there might be a connection between cooking in aluminum pots or drinking from aluminum cans and the onset of Alzheimer’s. But, like the dental fillings, no study was able to prove aluminum to be a causative factor in developing Alzheimer’s.
8. You can develop Alzheimer’s from flu shots. While there is some evidence to suggest that flu shots can cause certain ailments, there is no proof that the shot causes Alzheimer’s. In fact, two studies, one out of Canada in 2001 and the second reported in JAMA in 2004 suggest that being vaccinated against the flu may actually lower the risk to developing Alzheimer’s.