World Alzheimer’s Day is observed across the globe on September 21, to inculcate awareness and knowledge amongst the general public, about the incapacitating ailment. Alzheimer’s Disease is a neurodegenerative condition characterised by a substantial decrease in the size of the brain, due to atrophy i.e. damage and destruction of neuronal cells and tissues. It invariably gives rise to memory loss, along with a decline in cognitive functions of thinking, intelligence, thereby inciting a state of mental confusion. Also referred to as senile dementia or simply dementia, Alzheimer’s usually develops in elderly people above the age of 60 but can occur in younger individuals as well.
The worldwide association – Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), works closely with the World Health Organization (WHO), to coordinate numerous key campaigns on World Alzheimer’s Day. The ADI holds a primary objective to reduce the risk, ensure precise prompt diagnosis, improve healthcare measures, societal inclusion of patients and find an effective cure for Alzheimer’s in the future. The theme for World Alzheimer’s Day 2021 is “Know Dementia, Know Alzheimer’s”, which underscores the significance of recognizing and discerning the warning signs of dementia, for timely diagnosis and advanced medical support to successfully treat the disabling symptoms and improve the overall quality of life of the patient.
While it is important to stay abreast of vital details regarding Alzheimer’s symptoms, diagnosis and treatment, it is equally crucial to stop the spread of misinformation, to ensure that only truthful knowledge is disseminated among people and also banish any stigma linked with the memory-impairing illness. Here are some myths surrounding dementia, clarified with the pertinent facts.
General Myths And Relevant Facts About Alzheimer’s/Dementia:
A person will definitely develop Alzheimer’s disease if either one or both parents suffer from the condition
This is incorrect. While certain genetic mutations existing in the parents may be passed on to the child which may increase their risk of acquiring Alzheimer’s, this does not happen in every case and hereditary features are not the only trigger factor. Lifestyle and environmental aspects like junk diet, chemical exposure, lack of exercise also make a person more prone to dementia.
Alzheimer’s only affects people over 60
False. In the majority of cases, the initial stages of Alzheimer’s and subsequent dementia occur only at 60 years of age or older. However, doctors estimate the globally, between 5 – 10 per cent of Alzheimer’s happen in younger individuals in their 30s, 40s and 50s. This is termed early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Frequently displaying forgetfulness implies Alzheimer’s disease
Not true. As people grow older, it is common to experience fleeting bouts of absent-mindedness or short-term memory loss, such as forgetting about an appointment at work or where exactly the car keys were kept in the house. This does not automatically confirm that the individual has Alzheimer’s, since the indications of dementia are far more severe, such as forgetting close family member’s names, faces, or even their own past, with grave memory impairments.
Alzheimer’s disease can be prevented
This statement is flawed. There are no known medical treatment methods to entirely avert the instance of Alzheimer’s. An individual can only take effective measures to lower the risk of contracting the ailment later on in life, such as consuming a balanced diet, ensuring ample sleep, regular physical activity, keeping blood pressure under control, maintaining healthy body weight and protecting the head from injuries. Moreover, in the case of genetic aberrations, these inherited defects are beyond control and cannot be avoided.
Flu shots increase the risk of Alzheimer’s
This is completely erroneous. Flu shots help boost immunity against the viral infection – influenza and in reality, decrease the possibility of memory-related health problems in the later years.