8 Ridiculous Myths People Believe About Alzheimer’s

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We don’t know about you, but we hate it when people say things without doing their research first. Way too many people aren’t educated enough when it comes to Alzheimer’s, and many of them tend to have false notions of the what the disease is or how it works stuck in their heads. What’s worse is when they refuse to see reason.

Here are 8 of the assumptions people make that really get our feathers ruffled.

8. Alzheimer’s doesn’t lead to death

Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease like any other. It keeps getting worse over time and is more or less irreversible. While we hope that may not always be the case as we do more research on Alzheimer’s prevention and cures, you’re just kidding yourself if you think Alzheimer’s patients don’t ever die from their disease. In fact, it’s the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.

Many people think this is absurd. How can you die just from not being able to remember your kids’ names? Well, you probably can’t, but you can die from forgetting to eat or drink. You can die when your body forgets how to swallow or even breathe correctly. Alzheimer’s patients are also more prone to putting themselves in potentially deadly situations when they wander away from home or forget to shut off the stove or curling iron. Believing that Alzheimer’s doesn’t lead to death is just ludicrous. And to Alzheimer’s patients and those who care for them, it may even be a slap in the face, a way of saying, “This disease isn’t nearly as serious as you’re making it out to be.”

7. Alzheimer’s is a normal part of getting old

Some people think that if we were all capable of living “long enough,” we would all get Alzheimer’s eventually. And maybe a little memory loss is normal with old age, but Alzheimer’s is certainly not. Alzheimer’s is more than just regular memory loss; it interferes with your life, with your ability to function as a human being. You have every right to be angry when a friend or relative says this is “normal,” as if you shouldn’t worry about it. We’re here to tell you it’s okay to be concerned. It’s okay to keep looking for ways to improve it, even if there is no cure yet. Amazing concerned people like you are going to be the reason a cure is found someday.

A doctor holding an old woman's hand - part of a series.

6. Alzheimer’s can be reversed

Yeah…no. Just no. We can’t believe how often people confuse slowed progression of a disease with outright symptom reversal. It’s true that treatments such as medications and therapy can keep Alzheimer’s symptoms from being as intense as they might have otherwise, they can’t stop that progression completely, much less reverse the disease. And really, just because the symptoms aren’t as strong doesn’t mean the disease isn’t still progressing at the same rate as before. How ridiculously insensitive is it for someone to assume you could fix this disease if you wanted to, but you won’t?

5. Alzheimer’s can be prevented

Just do your crossword puzzles, your brain twisters, your word searches. Just keep learning new words and reciting your grandkids’ names. Just don’t get any silver fillings or a flu shot, and don’t eat anything with aspartame in it. Right? Wrong.

While research is being done about lifestyle choices that could impact your chances of getting Alzheimer’s, we currently don’t know of any sure-fire way to prevent it. It’s not at all fair to assume a person developed Alzheimer’s because they didn’t take good care of themselves.

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Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?