Handy Examines Misconceptions of Dementia

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Introduction

According to Handy, over 5 million people in the U.S over the age of 65 suffer from Dementia and over 50 million people suffer the same worldwide. Still, there are a lot of misconceptions about the illness among the people who are outside the medical field. A few of these misconceptions only serve to stress people without any reason and can become the cause of many issues. 

The Misconceptions

Here are a few misconceptions about Dementia:

  1. Dementia is purely genetic

    Many people believe that if a family member has been diagnosed with dementia, the other members of the family would also develop dementia later in their life. This is not strictly true because except for some forms of dementia, most cases don’t have a strong genetic link. Instead, the most significant risk factor associated with dementia is age.

    Most cases of dementia are Alzheimer’s disease which is not hereditary. Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) has a stronger genetic link, especially if the grandparent or parent develops it before the age of 65. However, the occurrence is pretty rare.

  1. Dementia is a part of the ageing process

    This statement is false because dementia is not inevitable with age as it’s not a normal part of the ageing process. In fact, a report published by the Alzheimer’s Association reveals that in the U.S only 3% of the population aged between 65 – 74 has developed dementia. Between the ages of 75 – 84, 17% of the population has dementia and among the people older than 85 only 32% of the population has dementia.

  2. Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are the same things

    This statement is not strictly correct because Alzheimer’s is only a type of dementia and among all the cases of dementia, only 60 – 80% of the cases are composed of Alzheimer’s. Other types of dementia include vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia (FTD), Lewy body dementia, and mixed dementia.

    In the case of Alzheimer’s, the cognitive functioning of the patient declines due to the build-up of plaques and tangles in the brain. Vascular dementia is the result of the brain being deprived of oxygen, which can even elevate to a stroke. FTD is a result of the formation of abnormal protein structures in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain.

  1. Using aluminium pans can cause Alzheimer’s

    This misconception spread due to the result of experimentation done by scientists in the 1960s where they injected rabbits with high levels of aluminium. It was observed that the animals developed neurological lesions that were similar to the ones found in the brains of people affected by Alzheimer’s.

    Thus, people started to avoid drinking from aluminium cans or cooking with aluminium pots to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. However, scientists have yet to find a direct association between aluminium pots and pans and Alzheimer’s. In fact, only about 1% of the amount of aluminium present in food and drink is absorbed by the body and the rest is filtered by the kidneys.

Conclusion

Handy suggests you not to become paranoid due to the fear of dementia. In mild cases, it is still possible to lead a meaningful and active life without changes to the lifestyle.