Alzheimer’s disease, as you may know, is a degenerative disease of the brain for which there is still no cure. It generally develops in people over the age of 65, but can also affect younger adults. Here are a few Canadian statistics on the disease:
- In 2010, approximately 500,000 Canadians were living with Alzheimer’s disease or a similar form of dementia.
- Within a generation, the number of cases is expected to double to 1.1 million.
- There were 110,000 new cases in 2010, or one new case every five minutes.
6 Myths on Alzheimer's Disease
Alzheimer’s is still misunderstood and continues to be the subject of a number of myths. Let’s debunk some of these now to try to gain more insight into the disease.
1. If I experience memory loss, it means I have Alzheimer’s disease.
TRUE and FALSE. Many people experience memory problems as they age, but that does not necessarily mean they all have Alzheimer’s disease. However, if the loss of memory affects a person’s day-to-day functioning and exists together with other symptoms, such as difficulty in making decisions or changes in communication capabilities, it is best to see a doctor.
2. Alzheimer’s disease only affects seniors.
FALSE. While age is the most significant risk factor known for Alzheimer’s disease, not all seniors will develop it. Adults in their 40s and 50s are also subject to it. What’s most important to understand is that Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging.
3. If someone in my family has Alzheimer’s disease, I have a higher risk of one day developing it as well.
TRUE and FALSE. While heredity is a risk factor, only 7 percent of cases are associated with genes that cause the disease. A person with a parent or sibling who has or had Alzheimer’s, therefore has a risk (albeit a low one) of developing the disease.
4. Alzheimer’s disease can be prevented.
TRUE. There is a series of measures that can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. They involve lifestyle choices and include staying physically active, eating healthy foods, keeping your brain challenged, reducing your stress level, monitoring your blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol and remaining socially active.
5. Alzheimer’s disease can be cured.
FALSE. At present, there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but there are drugs and other measures that can help to alleviate some of the symptoms and improve the quality of life of patients. While there is no cure, research into the disease is ongoing and there are currently many drugs in clinical trial.
6. All people with Alzheimer’s disease become violent and aggressive.
TRUE and FALSE. It depends on the person. For some, the loss of memory can be extremely frustrating. Understanding the disease, adapting a person’s surroundings and changing the way we communicate with the person can help prevent negative responses.
There are many medications available to ease some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Your pharmacist can give you information on these products, their unwanted side effects and their potential interactions with other drugs. Feel free to ask for advice!