JUNE 3, 2022 - BY DR. SHERAZ KHAN
Dementia: it’s a scary word known for forgetfulness and confusion. But dementia is actually a broad term that refers to a range of symptoms associated with memory loss and other cognitive impairments.
Sometimes it's hard to tell what's real and what's not when it comes to dementia. This blog will dispel some common myths about dementia and offer a realistic overview of the condition.
What Is Dementia?
Dementia is a common term for a severe decline in your mental ability to interfere with daily life. Memory loss is just an early symptom of dementia. It causes problems with short-term memory, understanding language, and thinking abstractly. MCI can be a sign that dementia is developing.
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is an early stage of dementia that causes mild cognition or thinking skills problems. People with MCI experience more memory problems than expected for their age, but they can still function independently. They may also have language, thinking, mood, or behavior issues.
Myth 1: Dementia is a normal part of aging
This is one of the most common myths about dementia. While it's true that dementia becomes more common with age, not everyone getting older develops dementia.
A 2019 report about Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia, found that only 3% of people aged 65-74 have dementia, and only 30% of people above 85 are diagnosed with dementia.
Dementia occurs as a result of damage to brain cells. This damage can be due to various factors, including disease, injury, and lifestyle choices. While aging does increase your risk for dementia, it's not a normal part of the aging process.
Myth 2: Memory loss means I have dementia
It's OKAY to have some memory loss as you age. For example, you may forget where you left your keys or your dentist appointment. But dementia goes beyond normal forgetfulness.
People with dementia often have trouble with short-term memory. Still, they also have difficulty with language, executive functioning (which includes planning and problem-solving), and visuospatial skills (which involve being able to judge distance and perceive objects).
Myth 3: Dementia signals the end of life
While dementia can lead to a decline in physical and cognitive abilities, it's not a death sentence.
People with dementia can live long and productive lives. In fact, many people diagnosed with dementia live for years after their diagnosis. With proper support and care, people with dementia can maintain a good quality of life.
Myth 4: Dementia runs in the family
Just because your grandparents had dementia doesn't mean you will develop the condition.
While dementia may be more common in some families, it's not necessarily genetic. In fact, only a small percentage of dementia cases are due to genetics. Dementia can occur in anyone, regardless of their family history.
Myth 5: Aluminum Pans Cause Dementia
Your aluminum pans are not to blame for dementia.
So, be assured that your aluminum pans are not to blame for dementia.
Myth 6: Vitamins Can Prevent Dementia
You may have seen headlines proclaiming that vitamins can help prevent dementia. But unfortunately, there's no magic pill that can eliminate your dementia risk.
Vitamins and supplements can't replace a healthy lifestyle, neither do they prevent dementia. Studies suggesting these substances for effective prevention and treatment of dementia remain inconclusive.
Myth 7: There's nothing I can do to prevent dementia
There's no perfect way to prevent dementia, but there are things you can do to lower your risk.
Research has proven that certain lifestyle choices, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and not smoking, can help reduce your dementia risk. Additionally, staying mentally and socially active can also help keep your brain healthy as you age.
Dementia is a complex condition with many misconceptions surrounding it. We hope this blog has helped clear up some myths about dementia and given you a better understanding of the condition.
If you're concerned about your mental and cognitive health, talk to your doctor. They can help you determine if dementia is a possibility and offer ways to reduce your risk.