Early Signs You're Getting Alzheimer's, Say Experts

·3 min read

With National Alzheimer's Awareness Month kicking off November 1, the Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) is providing information to dispel common falsehoods about Alzheimer's disease to help individuals know the warning signs, understand the importance of early detection, and learn how to be proactive about reducing their risk. "Dispelling the misconceptions about Alzheimer's disease is critically important, because they may cause people to ignore symptoms and delay taking action which impacts their health and quality of life," said Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., AFA's President&CEO. "National Alzheimer's Awareness Month is the perfect time to reinforce factual information that can help someone spot the warning signs, get screened, and be proactive about their brain health." Read on to discover five common falsehoods about Alzheimer's disease—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

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Falsehood #1: Alzheimer's is Just Part of Getting Older

Elderly senior dementia patient in nursing hospice home holding geriatrician doctor's hand
Elderly senior dementia patient in nursing hospice home holding geriatrician doctor's hand

Alzheimer's is not a normal part of aging — it is a progressive, degenerative brain disorder, that impacts memory, thinking and language skills, and the ability to carry out simple tasks. It differs from regular age-related memory loss, such as occasional forgetfulness. Persistent, progressively worsening memory issues that interfere with every day functions, such as routinely becoming disoriented in familiar places or forgetting familiar names and faces, are not "just part of old age"—they're warning signs of a health problem.

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Falsehood #2: Alzheimer's Disease Only Affects Senior Citizens

Annoyed frustrated male reading bad news on the cellphone
Annoyed frustrated male reading bad news on the cellphone

While the majority of people who develop Alzheimer's disease are over the age of 65, young-onset Alzheimer's disease can affect people as young their 30s or 40s. Memory problems at any age should be checked out.

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Falsehood #3: Nothing Can be Done for Alzheimer's Disease.

Doctor doing an eye exam on his patient.
Doctor doing an eye exam on his patient.

Although there is currently no cure or treatment for Alzheimer's disease, people diagnosed with the disease can, and often do, have meaningful, active lives. They can participate in activities they enjoyed prior to the onset of Alzheimer's (making some adaptations), and therapeutic interventions can help improve one's quality of life. Some medications can help manage the symptoms. The earlier Alzheimer's is detected, the more significant the impact these interventions can have.

RELATED: The #1 Cause of Aging Too Quickly

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Falsehood #4: You Cannot Reduce Your Risk of Developing Alzheimer's

senior woman sleeping on bed
senior woman sleeping on bed

While there is no guaranteed way to prevent Alzheimer's, lifestyle choices can help you reduce your risk for developing Alzheimer's disease. Good diet, exercise, social interaction, learning new skills, proper sleep, limiting alcohol, and quitting smoking are all things you can, and should, do to promote good brain health.

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Falsehood #5: All Memory Impairments are the Result of Alzheimer's.

Doctor and senior woman wearing facemasks
Doctor and senior woman wearing facemasks

Alzheimer's is a cause of memory loss, but not the only one—vitamin deficiencies, thyroid problems, depression, sleep apnea, stress, and urinary tract infections can all cause memory impairments. Detecting the underlying cause is essential in order to take action. Memory screenings are an important first step in uncovering potential memory issues—they are quick, non-invasive, and consist of a series of questions to gauge memory, language, thinking skills and other intellectual functions. Results are not a diagnosis, but a memory screening can suggest if someone should see a physician for a full evaluation. AFA offers free, confidential memory screenings virtually—visit www.alzfdn.org to learn more. And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

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