Alzheimer's Does Not Lead To Death And 5 Other Myths Which Everyone Should Stop Believing Right Now

Alzheimer’s Does Not Lead To Death.

It is crucial to clarify and debunk these myths to spread accurate awareness of the disease and its management. TheHealthSite.com spoke to Dr. Jyoti Sehgal, on the topic, and here is what the doctor wants you to know.

According to the U.S.-based Alzheimer’s Association, more than four million people in India are afflicted with some form of dementia, and this number is expected to triple by 2050. Dementia is defined as the deterioration of mental faculties affecting a person’s memory, behaviour, and thinking. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and affects memory the most. It is a progressively degenerative condition in which there is a steady loss of memory and other mental functions which cannot be reversed. The different aspects of Alzheimer’s- causes, symptoms, management, etc. are not understood by all, leading to various myths surrounding the disease. Therefore, it is crucial to clarify and debunk these myths to spread accurate awareness of the disease and its management. TheHealthSite.com spoke to Dr. Jyoti Sehgal, Senior Consultant, Institute of Neurosciences, Medanta – The Medicity, on the topic, and here is what the doctor wants you to know.

Myth 1: Alzheimer’s Is An Age-Related Disorder

Fact: Age is not the primary cause of this disease. Several genetic and environmental factors contribute to the onset of Alzheimer’s. One of the strongest genetic factors is a genetic variation of APOE, the principal cholesterol carrier in the brain. Other risk factors include a history of head injury, high blood pressure, and clinical depression. Environmental factors like diet, lifestyle, exposure to pollutants also play a role in triggering the disease. Additionally, patients with Alzheimer’s usually take a long to be diagnosed as the symptoms often get confused with stress or forgetfulness.

Myth 2: Alzheimer’s Disease And Forgetfulness Are The Same

Fact: Forgetfulness is commonly experienced with ageing, and the notable symptoms take almost 8 years to manifest themselves completely. The early signs can affect complex daily activities. The most noticeable deficit is short-term memory loss, where one faces difficulty recalling recent facts and acquiring new information. On the other hand, Alzheimer’s does not affect all memory capacities equally. While new facts or memories are affected primarily, older memories (episodic memory), facts learned (semantic memory), and implicit memory is comparatively less affected. With progression, speech difficulties become evident due to an inability to recall vocabulary, which leads to frequent incorrect word substitutions. Reading and writing skills are lost, and the ability to recall long-term memories is also impaired. In the final stages, words are reduced to mere phrases, and there is extreme apathy (emotional indifference, ability to associate with a family member or friend).

Myth 3: Alzheimer’s Can Occur Only Among The Elderly

Fact: Though most people with Alzheimer’s disease are over 60 years, it can also manifest at a younger age. However, the percentage of such cases is minimal and is considered to have a genetic risk factor involved with a mutation passed on to the individual from a parent. Such conditions can go unnoticed for long before it is in a diagnosable state.

Myth 4: Alzheimer’s Does Not Lead To Death

Fact: Alzheimer’s is a progressive brain degeneration. The symptoms worsen over time, though they can vary. The typical life expectancy is 3-9 years after diagnosis. The disease is not fatal but comes with cumulative infections, ulcers, and pneumonia resulting in deteriorating health. Finally, there comes a stage where the patient is unable to perform normal day-to-day activities like swallowing food or drinking water which puts them in a debilitating state.

Myth 5: Medications Can Cure Alzheimer’s

Fact: There is no treatment yet to cure Alzheimer’s. However, there are certain treatments and medications for reducing the progression of the disease. Exercising may be beneficial and can potentially improve outcomes. Leading a healthy lifestyle can help reduce risk factors that are associated with Alzheimer’s. Regular medical check-ups, controlling high blood pressure, maintaining a healthy weight, having a positive mindset, and staying physically active are recommended.

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