Submitted by: Jim Herlihy
Marketing and Communication Director
Despite being the sixth-leading cause of death, Alzheimer’s disease is frequently misdiagnosed and is not widely understood.
The Alzheimer’s Association, which is the largest non-governmental source of funding for research to find a cure for the disease, reminds us that people should be aware of some common myths regarding Alzheimer’s:
Myth 1: Memory loss is a normal part of aging
Reality: Occasional memory challenges as we age are normal, such as forgetting names of someone you just met. The frequent memory loss that is part of Alzheimer’s disrupts daily life, such as needing to rely on memory aids or family members for things that one previously handled on their own.
Myth 2: Alzheimer’s is not a fatal disease
Reality: Alzheimer’s disease is America’s sixth-leading cause of death – ahead of breast and prostate cancers combined. It slowly destroys brain cells, ultimately leading to the loss of body functions and death.
Myth 3: Alzheimer’s only affects the elderly
Reality: Nearly six million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, including people in their 50s, 40s and even 30s. An estimated 200,000 Americans under 65 are living with Alzheimer’s.
Myth 4: The risk from Alzheimer’s is the same for everyone
Reality: While the main risk factor for Alzheimer’s is aging, some population groups are at greater risk. African-Americans are twice as likely as whites to be diagnosed, and Hispanic-Latinos are 50 percent more likely. And two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women.
Myth 5: I can ignore the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and get by
Reality: Some people may temporarily work around memory loss and other symptoms of Alzheimer’s, compensating in other ways, but delaying diagnosis is detrimental – it delays access to medications, supportive services, planning and other resources that help both the person with Alzheimer’s as well as caregivers.
To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and services available through the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado, go to www.alz.org/co or call the free 24-hour Helpline at 800-272-3900.