The truth about Alzheimer’s: We’ve sorted fact from fiction

With so much conflicting information out there, it can be difficult to determine what’s true and what’s not about Alzheimer’s.

With so much conflicting information out there, it can be difficult to determine what’s true and what’s not about Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s can be a debilitating disease and is a significant factor when it comes to developing dementia. Experts believe the number of Australians with Alzheimer’s and dementia will grow from 342,800 to 400,000 over the next ten years, and will require more funding and government support. One of the best ways to understand the disease is know what’s real and what’s rumour. Take a look at the myths below and tell us if any of them surprised you.

1. Myth: Alzheimer’s disease is not fatal.

Reality: Despite what many people think, Alzheimer’s can be fatal. In the early stages of the disease, Alzheimer’s targets certain cells in the brain associated with memory. As it develops, however, it moves to other areas of the brain and affects essential systems in our bodies, causing them to break down over time. This, coupled with the fact that Alzheimer’s is usually found in older people who suffer from other conditions at the same time, can lead to death.

2. Myth: Drinking out of aluminium cans or cooking in aluminium pots and pans can lead to Alzheimer’s disease.

Reality: There have been suggestions there is a link between aluminium and Alzheimer’s, but the research around the issue is still being debated in medical circles. While there is some data to suggest a correlation between the two, doctors agree there is not enough evidence to definitively say aluminum is a risk factor in developing the disease.

3. Myth: Memory loss is a natural part of ageing.

Reality: We often associate memory loss with age, believing it is par for the course as we get older. However, experts now acknowledge that severe memory loss is a sign of illness and needs to be addressed in its own right. While many of us report feeling a little fuzzy and unable to remember things like we used to as we age, there is no scientific proof to back up a link between memory loss and ageing.

4. Myth: Depression causes Alzheimer’s disease.

Reality: The debate over the link between depression and Alzheimer’s has been going for some time now. While depression can be an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease, there is no evidence to suggest it directly causes Alzheimer’s. There are over 1 million Australians suffering from depression, and 342,800 suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia. The large gap between these numbers suggests that depression is not a significant factor in developing Alzheimer’s.

5. Myth: Exercise, diet, and an active mind prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Reality: While regular exercise, a healthy diet, and an active mind are all linked to lower odds of developing Alzheimer’s, there is no scientific evidence to say they prevent Alzheimer’s all together. A healthy and active person can still develop Alzheimer’s, while a couch-potato may go their entire life without significant health issues. Doctors are still trying to determine an exact link between the two, but say in the meantime people should stick to a more active lifestyle and nutritious diet to sustain their overall quality of life.

Were you surprised by any other these myths? Do you worry about developing Alzheimer’s or dementia?

  1. I have just read in the Sunday paper that stress can double one’s chances of contracting Alzheimer.

  2. This article is incorrect once again. There is absolutely a correlation between diet and alzheimer’s, in fact there have been significant studies that show, heavy metal poisoning as well as sugar addictions can lead to alzheimer’s, as can a shortage of vitamin d. To say that diet and lifestyle have no bearing on whether a person succumbs to alzheimers or any other form of dementia, is short sighted indeed. Even the alzheimer’s society acknowledge the positive effect of organic cold pressed coconut oil, when taken in sufficient doses, and with regularity, assists the brain in repairing damaged cells.

    • My parents have been together for 65 years , eating the same foods , doing the same exercise ect . Mum has it dad doesnt . I think its one if those things if you are going to get it you will no matter what . My mum has never smoked or drank alcohol , and never been overweight .

    • My parents too Diane ate the same food, slept in the same bed etc Mum had it – Dad was still good mentally. His heart carried him off. I have talked about the stress from their neighbours before. Perhaps the stress affected her brain and his heart. My mother and my mother in law were vastly different people. Both got Alzheimer’s. As it happens – both took Lipitor. When my mother in law entered care – the first thing the nurse did was say – “Well we can get rid of this” and Lipitor went out the door. Too late though. The damage was done.

    • Leone O’Sullivan Have only recently read of the connection between Lipitor and memory loss and wondered if that drug had anything to with my late husband acquiring “an aggressive form of dementia” ( the specialist’s words) and passing away just 4 years after commencing it. His diet and lifestyle was no different to mine – ate the same foods, played sport and kept his mind active by reading and doing crosswords! People usually associate death from dementia as something that happens to old people but he was just 66.

    • Jeanie McCormack cholesterol lowering drugs are definitely a factor! Your brain is 80% cholesterol, so imagine what happens when you take drugs that inhibit the production or absorption of it! The drug companies and Dr’s who promote these should be shot! IMO. Sugar causes arterial damage, cholesterol repairs the damage, and yet the medical fraternity blame the building block the body uses to repair itself! Kunacy

  3. i’m on statins and blood pressure medications and both these cause memory problems so it’s not just that i’m getting older as i thought. Have noticed i can’t think of the word i want and have to think for awhile about spelling a simple word i know very well but thankfully it finally comes to me. As if we don’t have enough problems with aging we have to put up with side effects from medication – but at least i’m still alive.

    • Diane Jones wow that’s a worry. so what are you doing for your cholesterol now? My girlfriend has trouble with statins too.

    • Watching what i eat and makinf sure my vitamin D level are where they should be . Mine were really high but are coming down now .

    • Vitamin D level are so impryant for many bodily functions as well as cognitive things ; bone health and well being .

    • It’s Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleeve of care. Mum couldn’t ever get a good nights sleep with the neighbours from hell..

    • Leone O’Sullivan that would have been stressful too. Have suffered with bad neighbours from time to time and it is very stressful.

  4. Oh forget all the things you read! If its in your family then there isnt much you can do about it! No matter what you try to do to stop it sadly nothing works! My grandmother had it, all her brothers and sisters had it and my Mum did everything right, ate all healthy foods, no alcohol, nothing bad, but sadly she still suffered from it and I took care of her and now Im afraid I am next!

  5. My mum was fine and still managing in her own home alone at age 90, then her house she had lived in for 68 years was flooded and unlivable, we are sure of that traumatic event her dementia began, it turned her cosy life upside down.

  6. The active mind bit doesn’t add up at all. Plenty of really clever people end up with Alzheimers. My mother suffered from it, and she was a big drinker. I’m sure it contributed to it. Funny thing, as it progressed, she forgot she liked a drink and stopped altogether

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