Nancy Wurtzel

Nancy Wurtzel is a public relations professional and creative writer, who recently returned to her native Minnesota after living on the West Coast for many years. Read about her midlife journey on her blog, Dating Dementia, as she navigates through divorce, restarting a career, dating, empty nest challenges, moving home, baby boomer issues and caring for an aging parent with Alzheimer’s. Follow Nancy on Twitter and Facebook.

Six Alzheimer's Myths Debunked

Posted by: Nancy Wurtzel Updated: October 3, 2013 - 5:57 PM

The media is saturated with coverage of Alzheimer’s disease.  Yet, even with 10 million news stories that show up in a simple Google search, there is still an incredible amount of confusion surrounding the disease.

Why?

Here’s my opinion.

Many people are afraid of Alzheimer’s disease and consequently avoid news coverage on the topic.

Alzheimer’s is a highly complicated subject, causing some to tune out or become confused by what they read or hear in the media. Sadly, there are also those who think this disease has nothing to do with them. 

Finally, there will always be people who believe and spread urban legends.

Some of these urban legends drive me crazy and I often hear them repeated by smart, informed individuals.  Here are a few that especially tick me off.

Myth #1: All old people will develop Alzheimer’s.

Reality:  Not True.  Currently, about half of the people over the age of 85 have Alzheimer’s, but many seniors live into their 90s and beyond and never develop the disease.  Also, some people  in their 30s, 40s and early 60s develop early onset Alzheimer’s — long before they can be considered elderly.

Myth #2: No one in my family has ever had Alzheimer’s, so I won’t get it.

Reality: Not so fast.  Even after billions of dollars of research, so much is still unknown about Alzheimer’s disease.  It is difficult to believe, but researchers can’t even agree what causes it.  I told this to someone recently and she didn’t believe me.  It’s true and it should make everyone mad as hell.  So, bottom line is this: just because none of your close relatives have had Alzheimer’s, doesn’t mean you are immune.

Myth #3: I keep misplacing my keys.  I’m convinced I have Alzheimer’s.

Reality:  Do you have other significant symptoms?  If yes, then see a qualified physician who can perform a comprehensive medical exam, including a memory test.  No other symptoms?  Then, please get over yourself.  Everyone loses their keys.  For god’s sake, buy a key finder.

Myth #4: They just discovered a cure for Alzheimer’s.

Reality: What planet do you live on and where do you get your news?  Not true.  There is no cure.

Myth #5: At least you can’t die from Alzheimer’s disease.

Reality: Wrong!  Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that will eventually cause death.  There is no cure and no effective treatment.  Above all, this myth drives me totally crazy.

Myth #6: I won’t ever get Alzheimer’s because I exercise, eat right, limit stress, drink red wine, use coconut oil and play brain games online.

Reality: We’d all be better off practicing good health habits, so don’t stop.  Personally, I am highly in favor of the red wine.  However, even people in terrific health and with access to the best medical care may still develop Alzheimer’s.  Nothing is a sure thing when it comes to this terrible disease.  Keep your body and mind in tip-top shape because it will make you feel better now.  Honestly, now is all we have, so enjoy it.  And, you can forget the coconut snake oil.  Spend your money on the wine.

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