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Top 10 Lies Everyone Believes about Alzheimer’s Disease
6. Alzheimer’s mainly affects men
This is an absolute myth. This disease affects both men and women. In fact, women make up a full two-thirds of all Alzheimer’s cases. Although there is no cure for this disease, you can help prevent Alzheimer’s by eating an all-natural diet as much as possible and keep your brain active by learning new things and by being socially active.
7. Alzheimer’s is simply a normal part of aging
We used to call Alzheimer’s disease “going senile.” We also used to believe that this was a normal part of growing old, but with new technology, we now know that Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease of the brain that actually causes physical changes to the brain. Alzheimer’s involves neurofibrillary tangles, the development of amyloid plaque, and nerve cells in the brain losing contact with each other or dying off completely. None of these things are normal.
This disease is irreversible and it is progressive, but not an unavoidable part of the aging process.
8. If your family members get it, you will too
Although genes do play some type of role in our chances of developing this disease, they actually represent only a very small number of cases. Five to seven percent of all Alzheimer’s cases are something called Familial Alzheimer’s disease, an inherited form of this disease. (Sometimes it’s called “early onset”) Although the disease itself is the same as the more common Sporadic Alzheimer’s disease (referred to as “late onset”), the difference is in a set of mutated genes that are passed from one generation to the next one. If one of your parents carries this mutated gene, you have a 50 percent chance of inheriting this gene and the disease. If you do have this mutated gene, chances are you will develop Alzheimer’s.
However, with the sporadic form, if you have a sibling or parent with Alzheimer’s, you have a three times greater risk than someone with no family history of this disease. Experts say that it’s not the genes that cause Alzheimer’s however. Some people with this gene do not develop Alzheimer’s while others without the gene do. We still don’t know enough about what causes this terrible brain disease.
9. Alzheimer’s doesn’t kill
Yes, unfortunately, it does. What happens in our brains affects the rest of the body. In later stages, the body begins to shut down systems that affect the skin, senses, blood pressure, and breathing. Victims experience longer episodes of sleep, pain, infection, discomfort, and pneumonia often sets in.
Alzheimer’s is one of the top 10 causes of death throughout the world in 2007. (The latest data available) It’s the 7th leading cause in Canada and 6th in the United States. Alzheimer’s kills more people every year than kidney disease or infections such as influenza.
10. Once you have Alzheimer’s, there is no hope
Researchers are constantly finding better ways to detect the disease, test new treatments, and possibly even develop a vaccine. Scientists are constantly learning more about Alzheimer’s disease, and there are new treatments constantly coming out to help manage symptoms and improve the quality of life for those afflicted with this disease. Being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s does not mean you suddenly will have a loss of independence. Health experts will tell you that it’s important to focus on what you can do, not on what you can no longer do. If you think that someone you love, or even yourself, might have Alzheimer’s, see your doctor. Many treatments work best with early diagnosis.
Alzheimer Society of Canada
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