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Dean's Blog | September 19, 2019

3 common myths about Alzheimer’s Disease {And free resources}

Judith Karshmer

Alzheimer's and related dementias can impact not only the person with the disease but generations of caregivers and loved ones.

Sometimes I forget where I put my glasses (first guess, top of my head). Recuperating from a 30-mile bike ride takes me longer than it used to. And if I want to stand a chance of reading that PowerPoint presentation on the screen I have to move a lot closer.  These are all a normal part of the aging process and we all, eventually, go through it. 

But many members of our society also face more debilitating conditions. In Arizona alone, more than 120,000 people are living with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia. Dementias are also the fourth leading cause of death in Arizona and the number of cases is expected to rise by 43% by 2025. 

One of the things those of us who work in both the nursing profession and in higher education know is that myths and misconceptions are sometimes hard to break. Whether it's information about the cause of the common cold, supplements or vaccines, there's simply a lot of misinformation in the world today.

So let’s bust 3 of the common myths about Alzheimer’s Disease.

Myth: Forgetting what you ate for lunch is a normal part of aging.

Fact: Normal aging results in lapses in long-term memory while Alzheimer’s damages the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for short-term memory.

Myth: Men are affected more by Alzheimer’s than women.

Fact: Roughly two-thirds of women are affected by the disease while only about one-third of men are. The assumption used to be that this was because women lived longer, but recent findings indicate it may have something to do with how hormonal changes women experience during menopause affect their brains.

Myth: Supplements help boost memory.

Fact: Supplements are not regulated by the FDA in the same way pharmaceutical drugs are, so there is no hard research to prove they boost memory. One of the best ways to boost memory is through mental exercises, such as games and hobbies. The best mental exercise is to learn something new.

If you have a loved one living with Alzheimer’s Disease or related dementia there are many places to turn for accurate information. One of them is the Edson College Center for Innovation in Healthy and Resilient Aging which offers a number of educational and research-based resources.

Aging is the number one risk factor associated with Alzheimer’s Disease and we’re all getting older. Unfortunately, there is not yet a cure for Alzheimer’s. But with accurate, helpful information, people living with the disease and their caregivers can lead more resilient lives.