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Myths about Alzheimer's

30 years ago, the neurologist Mercè Boada and the psychologist Lluís Tárraga founded “Alzheimer Center Educacional”, a day center where people with Alzheimer's disease were treated with non-pharmacologically treatment. At that time, the vast majority of people who came to the center were in the last stages of the disease because there was a great lack of knowledge about Alzheimer's.

Years have passed and thanks to the advancement in diagnostic technologies, the awareness-raising work promoted by organizations such as Ace Alzheimer Center Barcelona and the different public administrations, today most of the people who visit us for the first time come to Ace with the first symptoms and with more information.

Despite this, Alzheimer's disease is still largely unknown, usually for people who have not had any cases in their immediate environment and, therefore, there is still a lot of informative and pedagogical work to be carried out.

In this post we address the different myths about Alzheimer's that still exist in our society and we try to briefly clarify each one of them:

Myth 1: Dementia and Alzheimer's are the same

Dementia is often confused with Alzheimer's and, although Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia, it can manifest itself in other types such as Lewy body dementia, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, mixed ...

We can say that dementia is the set of symptoms that affect memory, language and social skills that interfere with our daily lives. The type of dementia is the realization of these symptoms in one form or another. That is, if dementia is the name, "Alzheimer's", "vascular" or "Lewy bodies" would be the last name. It is what helps to better identify the disease and above all, it guides us in the type of treatment.

Myth 2: It is normal that with age we do not remember the name of a close relative

As with our bones and joints, the brain also ages and it is possible that some forgetfulness appears, it is more difficult for us to retain certain type of information, and we do not even easily remember distant relatives.

Even so, there are symptoms, such as forgetting people who are very close, loss of orientation, difficulty in finding words and even getting lost in the middle of a conversation that are not a consequence of a natural aging of the person. In these cases, we recommend performing our Facememory® test or visiting our Diagnostic Unit to rule out the existence of cognitive impairment.

Myth 3: Alzheimer's only involves memory loss

Alzheimer's is a type of dementia that causes different problems. The most common is memory loss, but there are also others such as difficulty in language, changes in personality and behavior or problems reasoning correctly.

Myth 4: Alzheimer's can't be prevented

While it is true that there is no treatment to prevent Alzheimer's disease, it is known that incorporating healthy habits into our lives, as well as socializing, can delay and even prevent the appearance of this dementia. This is what is called secondary prevention: it consists of reducing as much as possible the risk factors that favor its appearance.

So, experts strongly recommend following a healthy diet, avoiding tobacco, exercising, resting, avoiding stress and anxiety, and surrounding yourself with people to stay socially active with.

Myth 5: Once I am diagnosed with cognitive impairment, there is nothing to do

If you have had diagnostic tests and your result is that you have cognitive impairment, it does not mean that you have Alzheimer's. It is a latent risk and there is evidence that will tell you if it is a pre-Alzheimer's deterioration or if it is from another cause, but even if it was the deterioration that precedes dementia, you can still work to delay its onset.

For example, exercise your memory from home and through our memory workshops, lead a healthy life, exercise and socialize. In addition, in our Therapeutic Apheresis Unit we apply the Ambar® treatment for people with mild and moderate cognitive impairment.

Myth 6: Alzheimer's is hereditary

Just because your mother or grandfather had Alzheimer's does not mean that you will have it in the future. Alzheimer's is not considered a hereditary pathology, despite the fact that there are genetic factors that could help its appearance, that is, being a carrier of the APOE gene. But as we say, its presence is not a factor that predicts the appearance of Alzheimer's.

Myth 7: Alzheimer's only appears in older people

The most common belief is that Alzheimer's is an exclusive dementia of the elderly. Currently we know that Alzheimer's appears up to 15 or 10 years before manifesting its first symptoms, so prevention and memory checks are very important. Although it usually appears after the age of 65, every time we find more cases of middle-aged people diagnosed with cognitive impairment.

Myth 8: A drug has been approved to cure Alzheimer's

Currently, there is no drug that can reverse the cognitive decline caused by Alzheimer's. In early June 2021, the FDA, the American drug agency, approved the drug Aducanumab (Adulhelm®) in people with cognitive impairment and early-stage Alzheimer's. Adulhelm® reduces the deposit of beta amyloid in the brain and, therefore, slows the course of the disease. Although the American authorities indicated that it does not present sufficiently satisfactory results in the clinical aspect and a new clinical trial has been requested from the responsible laboratory, in the United States it is already being offered.

The rest of the pharmacological treatments that currently exist and that are prescribed to people with Alzheimer's are to treat the symptoms of the disease and not to alter its progress.

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