Alzheimer's disease: truth or fiction?
Myths and misconceptions about Alzheimer’s disease abound. What it is, who gets it, and how it affects the people who have it. These myths stand in the way of understanding the disease and helping those affected.
Myth: If I’m diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, it means my life is over.
Truth: If you or someone you know is diagnosed with the disease, you can live meaningfully and actively for many years. Eating a heart-healthy diet, exercising regularly, staying socially connected and doing things that challenge your brain also help slow disease progression. While medications may not work well for everyone, they're most effective in the early stages of the disease. That's why early diagnosis is important.
Myth: My mother had Alzheimer’s, so I’m going to get it too.
Truth: Fewer than 5% of cases are attributed to genetics. If you have a parent or sibling who has Alzheimer's disease, you have only a slightly higher chance of getting it than everyone else.
Myth: Alzheimer's is a disease of the elderly.
Truth: Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disease of the brain. It most often occurs in people over 65, but can affect people in their 40s and 50s.
Myth: There’s a cure for it.
Truth: Alzheimer’s disease remains incurable. However, medications, support and care early in the disease can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.
Myth: Memory loss means Alzheimer’s disease.
Truth: Not necessarily. You may experience trouble with your memory as you age. However, if memory loss affects your day-to-day ability to function, communicate or is accompanied by a decrease in judgment or reasoning ability, it's best to see your doctor immediately.
Myth: Aluminum causes Alzheimer’s disease.
Truth: There is no conclusive evidence that shows this.
Myth: Alzheimer’s disease can be prevented.
Truth: No single treatment can prevent it. Exercising your mind and body, eating a heart-healthy diet, reducing stress and staying socially active may all help reduce your risk.
Myth: Taking supplements can prevent it.
Truth: There have been many studies on vitamins E, B, and C, gingko biloba, folate and selenium in preventing dementia. The findings have been inconclusive.
Download our printable brochure for more myths and misconceptions.
Dementia by the numbers
- Today, 747,000 Canadians are living with dementia, including Alzheimer's disease. By 2031, this number will increase to 1.4 million.
- 72% of all Canadians diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease are women.
- The annual cost of dementia will increase from $33 billion today to $293 billion by 2040.
Video: Fred and Ann on how they live well with dementia
Video: Elizabeth Allen on how early diagnosis helped her to cope with Alzheimer’s disease
Get more information about the impact of dementia in Canada, or to talk to someone at your local Alzheimer Society, go to Find help near you.