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What are some common misconceptions about dementia?

Middle-aged woman playing a game with a senior woman

Dementia is a general term that describes a decline in cognitive abilities, such as memory, thinking, language, and judgment, that affects a person’s daily life. However, there are many misconceptions about dementia that can cause confusion, stigma, or misinformation. Here are some of the common misconceptions about dementia and the facts behind them:

  • Misconception 1: Dementia is a normal part of aging. Fact: Dementia is not a normal part of aging. Although the risk of developing dementia increases with age, it is not inevitable or natural. Dementia is caused by various diseases or conditions that damage the brain cells, such as Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, or frontotemporal dementia .
  • Misconception 2: Dementia is the same as Alzheimer’s disease. Fact: Dementia is not the same as Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for about 60-80% of cases . However, there are other types of dementia that have different causes, symptoms, and treatments, such as vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia, or mixed dementia .
  • Misconception 3: Dementia only affects memory. Fact: Dementia affects more than memory. Depending on the type and stage of dementia, a person may also experience problems with attention, language, reasoning, judgment, planning, problem-solving, orientation, perception, or behavior . Dementia can also affect a person’s mood and emotions, such as causing depression, anxiety, apathy, irritability, or agitation .
  • Misconception 4: Dementia cannot be prevented or treated. Fact: Dementia can be prevented or treated to some extent. Although there is no cure for dementia, there are treatments that can help manage the symptoms and improve the quality of life of the person and their caregivers . These treatments include medications, non-pharmacological therapies, and supportive care . Moreover, there are some factors that can reduce the risk of developing dementia or delay its onset, such as maintaining a healthy lifestyle, engaging in physical and mental activities, staying socially connected, and treating any underlying medical conditions .
  • Misconception 5: People with dementia cannot live well or contribute to society. Fact: People with dementia can live well and contribute to society with the right support and care. People with dementia can still enjoy their hobbies and interests, express their feelings and opinions, make their own choices and decisions, and participate in their communities . They can also benefit from the respect and dignity that they deserve as human beings .

These are some of the common misconceptions about dementia and the facts behind them. By learning more about dementia and its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and care, we can help raise awareness, reduce stigma, and improve the lives of people with dementia and their loved ones .

Disclaimer: This article provides general information and should not replace professional medical advice.