The aging of the world population shows that Alzheimer’s disease will become an even more important social problem in the coming years. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that disrupts memory and other mental functions. Since it brings the person to the point that he cannot sustain his daily life, he is closely interested in the people around him.
Yeditepe University Koşuyolu Hospital neurologist, Assoc. Dr. Burcu Örmeci points out that the thought of dementia, , as a natural result of aging, the relatives of the patients, for some time to ignore the early signs of the disease by finding other excuses, or the lack of information, delayed the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.
Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about dementia and Alzheimer’s in the community. The correctness of this false information reaching the “MIT” point, Assoc. Dr. Burcu Örmeci told us.
Myth 1: Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are the same concepts.
CORRECT ANSWER: Alzheimer’s and dementia syndrome are two concepts that are often confused. In fact, Alzheimer’s disease is also a form of dementia. So the word dementia is a broad concept. Diseases other than Alzheimer’s disease are also included in this concept. For example, dementia associated with vascular diseases (dementia), Pick’s disease dementia, Parkinson’s disease dementia, Lewy body dementia…
Many other diseases are gathered under the roof of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common of all dementias, with 60-70 percent.
Myth 2: Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease means forgetting. Anyone with forgetfulness is a candidate for dementia.
CORRECT ANSWER: Many people complain about forgetfulness today. Very few of these are diagnosed with dementia. In dementia, in addition to forgetfulness, many symptoms appear due to impaired other functions of the brain. In other words, besides forgetting, language and perception disorders, personality changes, reasoning disorders, loss of ability are also seen.
Symptoms such as forgetting the names of people or places they live with, alienating from the place where they live, or not being able to find rooms and toilets, not being able to reason and taking initiative, bring the person to the point of living alone.
However, the real problem in many people who complain about forgetfulness today is the disturbance caused by intensity and inability to record the information that arises accordingly. Actually, it is not a real forgetfulness. One cannot search for, find or remember information that he has not already recorded. In this case, he thinks he forgot.
The forgetfulness in the concept of dementia is the irreversible loss of previously recorded and used information. There is no later recall for this information. It is also generally not possible to re-learn lost information.
Myth 3: Dementia has no cure.
CORRECT ANSWER: Many diseases in the concept of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease have no clear treatment known today. However, some vitamin deficiencies or medication, some brain hemorrhages or dementia due to increased water in the brain can be treated. Thus, the patient can recover. The most important point for all of these treatable causes is early treatment without dementia.
Myth 4: Alzheimer’s disease occurs only with the elderly, it is a natural consequence of aging.
CORRECT ANSWER: Although Alzheimer’s disease is a problem that increases with age, it does not occur in everyone who is aging. As long as the person is healthy, the memory works fully. Forgetfulness causing disability is not a natural process of aging. Dementia may also occur in young and middle-aged people. These are called early-onset dementia / Alzheimer’s disease. Genetic factors are determinative in early-onset dementia. Contains hereditary properties. Genetic risk increases if there is a person with a diagnosis of early-onset dementia.
Myth 5: Alzheimer’s disease is a genetic disease and is hereditary. If there is a person diagnosed in the family, the risk increases for everyone in the family.
CORRECT ANSWER: The contribution of genetics is very low in late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Environmental factors (toxic gases, radioactivity, infectious agents, nutrients with artificial additives, etc.) and other diseases constitute more risk factors. Genetic risk increases as the number of people diagnosed in the family increases or as the age of diagnosis becomes younger. If there is only one person in the family who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and the age of diagnosis is above 65, the genetic risk is almost the same as the society.
Myth 6: Prolonged exposure to aluminum products increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
CORRECT ANSWER: There is no scientific data on this subject as definitive evidence. Although there are several studies done, it is not enough to establish a definite cause-effect relationship. However, like all other metals and heavy metals, aluminum is among the environmental risk factors.
Myth 7: It is possible to prevent Alzheimer’s disease if diagnosed early.
CORRECT ANSWER: Unfortunately, it is not possible to prevent or treat Alzheimer’s disease with medication today. However, measures can be taken to reduce the risk.
Measures such as Mediterranean nutrition, regular physical activities, good social life, continuing learning and doing cognitive activities, good sleep, good treatment compatibility with chronic diseases reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. When a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, this disease started about 10 years ago, but it may have taken time to be clinically noticed.
Myth 8: Traumas such as accidents are the basis for Alzheimer’s disease.
CORRECT ANSWER: The risk here is, as with boxers, chronic trauma to the head. Chronic trauma causes brain cells to slowly die over time. The dementia table occurs when the amount of cells died exceeds a certain level. Memory problems that arise after a single and severe trauma are not called dementia. In this case, the diagnosis is made as
post-traumatic brain injury.
Myth 9: Alzheimer’s disease causes the patient’s character to change and become more aggressive.
CORRECT ANSWER: It is partially correct, but sometimes the opposite is true. It is also observed that very angry and aggressive people can be docile and calm. Changing personality structure may be the earliest finding especially in some dementias. However, the problem here is that it is absolutely permanent and progressive. Temporary temperament and temperament changes are a normal process that can happen to anyone. Therefore, the distinction must be made well.
Myth 10: Life with Alzheimer’s disease is not possible.
CORRECT ANSWER: Alzheimer’s disease is a disease that shortens life in the long term, but the patient can remain in the community and social life for many years. The disease can be kept under control for a long time with supportive treatments that will improve the patient’s quality of life.
Alzheimer’s is a disease that requires both the patient and relatives to be together and in treatment. However, in a family with Alzheimer’s disease, the quality of life, social status, jobs and health of individuals must be observed. Only the patient should be brought to the fore and productive adults and especially children should not be neglected.