When it comes to dementia, there is a vast amount of misinformation on the Internet, and oftentimes this type of information can cause unnecessary stress and concern for seniors and their family caregivers. That’s why it’s important to be aware of some of the most common myths about dementia so you and your family have an accurate understanding of what these symptoms do and do not entail. Outlined below are a handful of what we at HOA HomeCare in New Jersey find are some of the most common dementia-related myths:
Myth one: Dementia is caused by flu shots and amalgam dental fillings
Numerous studies have linked flu shots to a decreased risk of dementia, and amalgam dental fillings have been deemed safe by renowned, highly reputable organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Public Health Service, to name just a few.
Myth two: Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are interchangeable words for the same condition
While many people believe that dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are merely different words for the same condition, dementia is actually just an umbrella term for a number of symptoms commonly associated with impaired thinking and memory, while Alzheimer’s disease is a specific condition and type of dementia. In other words, dementia is a word used to describe symptoms that are commonly associated with Alzheimer’s disease, but it is not a specific diagnosis, whereas Alzheimer’s disease is in fact a specific diagnosis. The truth is that at this point in time – despite the many advancements of modern medicine – scientists still do not fully understand what causes all types of dementia. While the Center for Disease Control has found that as many as 50 to 70% of all people living with dementia are experiencing such symptoms as a result of Alzheimer’s disease, there are still a number of other common causes of dementia-related symptoms, including Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, among others.
Myth three: Only seniors can get dementia A person as young as 30, 40 or 50 can develop symptoms of dementia.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association there are more than 200,000 people in the United States who are living with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. This is important information for seniors and their family caregivers in the sense that believing this myth can cause one to unknowingly ignore early warning signs and refrain from getting care as soon as possible. If you have witnessed your loved one exhibiting dementia-related symptoms, it’s important that you let his or her primary care physician know as soon as possible.
Myth four: Trouble with memory is just a normal part of growing older
While it is normal for your family member to start forgetting little things such as appointments or where they put their car keys, it isn’t normal to forget key information like how to drive home or where the kitchen is located. The problem is that many people aren’t sure how to distinguish between what is and isn’t normal, and may be too quick to brush off a number of early warning signs as “normal,” including:
- Being unable to retrace one’s steps
- Experiencing memory loss that disrupts or makes daily life a challenge
- Feeling confused about time or places, losing track of spans of time, etc.
- A change in judgment or behavior that is dramatic enough to be noticed
- Finding it difficult to complete normal activities or tasks such as balancing a checkbook/maintaining finances
There are many different forms of dementia and degrees of severity, so this list is by no means comprehensive. It’s essential to speak with your family member’s physician should you suspect dementia symptoms. They may tell you the signs you’re noticing are in fact normal, but you’ll likely sleep easier knowing.
Myth five: All memory loss is irreversible
Thankfully, this is simply untrue. In some cases memory loss can be a temporary side effect of a medication or a simple vitamin deficiency, while in others it can be a sign of some other condition that is treatable or reversible. This is another reason why it’s important not to ignore symptoms as they arise and to instead seek knowledgeable care as soon as possible.
If you feel your family member is beginning to show dementia-related symptoms, rest assured that the help they deserve is available here at your local HomeCare. To arrange for a compassionate in-home caregiver to provide day-to-day activity assistance to your loved one, contact our local Northern NJ area office and schedule a complimentary in-home needs assessment today. Discover firsthand how HOA HomeCare’s friendly in-home care providers can enhance not just your loved one’s quality of life, but your peace of mind as well.
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