Alzheimer’s disease and dementia affect 747,000 Canadians, including about 15% of those 65 and older. Despite the prevalence of both diseases, misconceptions about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are unfortunately quite common. Understanding the facts about Alzheimer’s disease will help family caregivers identify signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in their elderly loved ones. Knowing the facts may also ease some fears which you have about this form of progressive mental deterioration disorder.
Myth: Memory Loss is Normal
One of the first myths is that everyone’s memory “goes” as they age. The truth is that some people remain mentally sharp with regards to memory and other facets of mental cognition until the day they pass away. Others experience memory problems and other difficulties which may be related to Alzheimer’s or other types of disorders.
Everyone is different, so changes in memory may be a signal of Alzheimer’s disease rather than “normal” symptoms of aging. This is why it’s important to see a doctor if these types of issues crop up.
Myth: Alzheimer’s Disease Only Affects Seniors
Another misconception is that Alzheimer’s only afflicts those in their golden years. The truth is that this disease may strike in middle age. So, problems with memory which surface earlier than one would expect may be a sign that this disorder is present. Of course, there may be another reason why someone’s memory is changing for the worse.
Only a licensed doctor will have the skills to diagnose what is happening, whether it’s Alzheimer’s or something else. If things are changing with your own memory or with the memory of someone that you care about, visit your doctor. Give a physician the opportunity to figure out what’s really going on with the changes in memory.
Myth: Alzheimer’s Disease is Preventable
It is true that living a healthier lifestyle is linked with a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, but there is no evidence of causation. People are well advised to eat well, exercise, stay social, and keep the mind active and engaged to improve quality of life, but there is no causal-effect evidence that these activities prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Help is Out There
If you’re trying to support someone who may have Alzheimer’s, you should know that a lot of helpful resources are out there. It’s hard to care for someone with Alzheimer’s on your own and you need support and respite. This is a progressive disease. It’s degenerative and this means caring for people with Alzheimer’s gets tougher over time.
In-home care services that are knowledgeable are the best way to take pressure off of your shoulders. When you access in-home care, nurses and other health care professionals and caregivers will come to your home and offer care according to the patient’s needs. Some people need help with preparing meals, light housework, or medication reminders. Others require a higher level of care such as behavioral monitoring, medication reviews, or even 24/7 nurse-monitored care.
If you have further questions about Alzheimer’s disease or would like to learn more about in-home Alzheimer’s care, get in touch with our psychogeriatric resources at Qualicare Family Homecare at 613.366.2899.