On September 21, World Alzheimer’s Day, awareness surrounding the disease is heightened and people are engaging in conversations about the illness and how it effects everyone involved. More than 5 million people are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and according to the Alzheimer’s Association, every 67 seconds someone develops Alzheimer’s. Since there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, the best a loved one can do is to catch the illness early to provide the best level of care and supervision to help maintain their safety. Here are common misconceptions and ways of denying that a loved one has dementia.
She’s just getting older: While everyone may not develop memory loss, age is the greatest risk factor for dementia, with the chances doubling every 5 years from ages 65 to 85. However, if you find your loved one is telling the same story over and over again or getting lost on the way to the grocery store, it is time to recognize these are not normal signs of aging. Encourage the person to have a thorough check-up by their physician who can help to find the cause.
It’s a mid-life crisis: It is a possibility that a person in his or her 40s, 50s or 60s could have a progressive form of memory loss. Signs include impulsive, out-of-character behaviors and poor judgment. While these may be signs of a mid-life crisis, it is important to realize there may be a deeper issue.
Stress and lack of sleep must be causing my forgetfulness: According to the Alzheimer’s Association, changes in sleep pattern may appear as the disease impacts the brain. The best way to determine if it is dementia is through a medical evaluation.
Everybody forgets sometimes: While “senior moments” may be a part of aging, not recognizing a formerly well-known person, not knowing the day or season, or having difficulty remembering new information are all signs that need further investigation.
She’s just really sad: According to the Mayo Clinic, the difference between depression and Alzheimer’s disease is that medications to treat depression may actually improve a person’s quality of life, whereas Alzheimer’s drugs can only slow the disease’s progression.