The month of June is called the Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. This month, the Alzheimer’s Association joins hands with people worldwide to encourage awareness about Alzheimer’s and Dementia through fundraisers, events, and educational material.
June 21 is considered Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Day. This day is designed to show love and support to people impacted by Alzheimer’s. All month long, and especially on June 21, people are encouraged to wear purple as a symbol of support and start a conversation about Dementia and Alzheimer’s care.
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To continue with the tradition of spreading awareness, here are the most commonly misunderstood aspects of Alzheimer’s:
#Myth 1- Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia Not are the same things
Alzheimer’s and Dementia are two interchangeably used terms. But they are not the same. Dementia is not a disease. It is an umbrella term for many symptoms like declining memory, poor judgment and reasoning, decreased focus, etc.
On the contrary, Alzheimer’s is a disease and the most common form of dementia. But it is not the only one. There are other forms like Mixed dementia, Huntington’s disease, etc.
#Myth 2- Memory loss is the first detectable symptom of Alzheimer’s
The general notion among people is that the first sign of Alzheimer’s is memory loss. However, there is growing evidence that Alzheimer’s begins its attack on the brain way before the identifiable symptoms set in.
Scientists at Neurogenerative Disease Research imaged an individual’s brain over time. They found amyloid protein as one of the earliest markers of Alzheimer’s. Over 20-30% of adults with no memory loss symptoms had deposition of amyloid protein in their brain. This suggests that the disease can be identified before severe symptoms occur.
#Myth 3- Alzheimer’s only occurs in old people
Alzheimer’s is more common in people above the age of 65. But it can also affect people before this age. Alzheimer’s occurring in people under the age of 65 is called early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, almost 6 million people are living with Alzheimer’s in America. Among these, 5-6%, i.e., 300,000 to 360,000, are below the age of 65.
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#Myth 4- Alzheimer’s disease is indiscriminate
Most people believe that Alzheimer’s is an indiscriminate disease. It is likely to affect all groups equally, irrespective of their race, profession, etc.
However, it turns out that the life of a privileged person (high social class and financial security) has some level of limited protection against Alzheimer’s.
A study by Yaakov Stern of Columbia University involving 593 people found that those who were less educated and held lower-status jobs developed Alzheimer’s at an early age than others. This initial advantage later faded because highly educated individuals’ condition declined faster after developing Alzheimer’s.
#Myth 5- Alzheimer’s disease can be prevented
The idea that specific brain exercises or supplements can prevent Alzheimer’s has no credible scientific evidence behind it.
According to an exhaustive review of brain training programs by a group of scientists led by Daniel Simons, the effects of these programs are negligible.
Alzheimer’s is a severe brain disease that has hampered the lives of millions. A serious medical effort is going on to find suitable treatments for the patients. But even before that, the society needs to be clear on the fundamentals to reduce the stigma around it.
This Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Day pledge to increase your understanding of Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Let us know in the comment section about your views.
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