Certain myths around Alzheimer’s can spike misunderstanding and even fear around the condition.
Dental Fillings Cause Alzheimer’s
While some amalgam fillings may contain a small amount of mercury along with other types of metal, the thought that this could affect brain health has not been supported by research. The Alzheimer’s Association notes that “according to the best available scientific evidence, there is no relationship between silver dental fillings and Alzheimer’s.”
Unless scientific research comes out that reaches a different conclusion, you’re better off focusing simply on keeping your teeth clean and healthy. In fact, some research shows that brushing your teeth can go a long way towards saving your brain.
Aluminum Pans Cause Alzheimer’s
Most research has not demonstrated a connection between aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease, although a couple of studies have called that conclusion into question. Aluminum is found naturally in the earth, so while it has been found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease, the association is questionable. Many scientists recommend focusing instead on other ways to reduce your risk of dementia, such as focusing on the risk factors that you have clear control over.
If You Forget Something, You Must Be Getting Dementia
While memory loss can be a sign of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, it can also be an indicator of a reversible condition that needs treatment. Additionally, in some types of dementia, such as frontotemporal dementia, memory may remain pretty functional in the early stages.
Alzheimer’s Disease Is Worse Than Dementia
People might be relieved at receiving a diagnosis of dementia, thinking that’s better than Alzheimer’s disease. While it’s understandable to feel relief at being able to call those symptoms a different name, it’s important to understand the diagnosis.
Alzheimer’s disease is one type of dementia. If you’re not sure what kind of dementia you or your loved one has, ask the doctor these questions so that you will know more about what to expect and what you can do in response to the diagnosis.
Memory Loss Is an Expected and Normal Part of Aging
After our twenties, some decline in speed and memory can be expected, but in general, cognitive functioning remains about the same as you age. It’s not normal to struggle to remember basic things like how to make a pot of coffee or where you live.
Reviewing these early warning signs of dementia can help you differentiate between normal memory loss and warning signs that you should discuss with a physician.
Flu Shots Cause Alzheimer’s
A physician (whose license was later suspended) suggested a theory that concluded that flu shots were linked to a much greater risk of Alzheimer’s disease. However, since then, there is no research that supports this idea. Instead, one study found a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease in those who had received the flu vaccination. Additionally, other research has concluded that flu shots are correlated with a decreased risk of all-cause death.
It’s Just Mean to Tell Someone They Have Dementia
There’s a thought out there that goes like this: “You shouldn’t tell a person that the doctor has diagnosed him with dementia because it will only make him upset. He’s better off not knowing.” This kind of thinking is so common that more than half of people with Alzheimer’s are not being told their diagnosis, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
While talking with someone about a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia, or Lewy body dementia is difficult, withholding a diagnosis is typically not the solution and often compounds the problem. Ethically, the person has the right to be aware of their diagnoses. Additionally, being informed as early as possibleabout a dementia diagnosis can help her make wise choices about her care and her future. Not telling a loved one or patient that they have dementia is perhaps easiest at the moment, but it’s not the right approach.
Only Old People Get Dementia
While the risk of dementia increases significantly with age, there are also some people who are younger than 65 who develop it. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that approximately 200,000 people are living with early onset dementia in the United States. Early onset (or younger age dementia) often affects people in the 40s or 50s, and it has a different set of challenges since many of these individuals are working and have families that they’re raising at this time. Support groups can be encouraging for those with early onset dementia, as well as for their families and friends.
Some of the more common types of younger onset dementia include early onset Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, HIV/AIDS-associated dementia, Huntington’s disease, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.