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25 Sep 2017

5 Common Misconceptions About Dealing With Dementia


Topics: Senior Health

Although research and awareness is changing how people treat and care for those dealing with dementia, misconceptions still exist. There are many myths about what dementia is, who gets it, and how it manifests. Myths and misconceptions add to the stigma around memory loss and make us lose touch with patients’ reality.

Dementia is a group of symptoms that affect memory and reasoning. Alzheimer’s disease is a specific cognitive impairment that falls under the dementia umbrella. Currently there is no cure and researchers are still looking to find the cause for diseases like Alzheimer’s.

It is important, as the baby-boomer generation ages, to make sure the general public is educated on common myths and misconceptions about dementia.

1. Dementia Is a Normal Part of Aging

Although age is the most important risk factor for dementia, most people do not develop it as they age. An Alzheimer’s diagnosis is not exclusive to seniors and should not be considered just a normal part of aging.

The majority of older adults age without significant memory loss. If you notice signs that someone you know is losing their memory make sure they see a doctor as soon as possible. This is not something that happens to everyone. Memory problems can be completely benign as long as they do not affect daily functioning, reasoning, lack of judgement, and communication. Only a doctor can tell you if forgetfulness is troubling.

2. All People Who Live with Dementia Become Aggressive and Violent

Dementia affects everyone differently. It is true that some people dealing with dementia become aggressive. The loss of memory is extremely frustrating and can become frightening. This can lead to aggression and sometimes violence but this reaction is not the norm.

By adapting a person’s surroundings, and changing the way you communicate with them, you also change their response. If you notice a loved one with dementia becoming scared or aggressive, talk to their doctor. They can give you tips to alter your behavior and their environment to make this kind of response less likely.

3. People with Dementia Do Not Understand What Is Going on around Them

People with forms of dementia, like Alzheimer’s disease, are all affected differently. Some people have trouble communicating; some do not recognize places or faces. Although their communication skills may be deteriorating, do not assume that people with dementia don’t understand what is going on around them.

It is important to support those who suffer from memory impairments and treat them with dignity and respect. Ask questions before you assume, and remembering they are the same person—just with new challenges.

4. Someone in My Family Has Dementia, so I Will Get It

Although genes do play a role in types of dementia such as Alzheimer’s, less than seven percent of cases have a genetic link. Genes may play a role in early onset forms of dementia, but the majority of Alzheimer’s cases are develop late in life with no known genetic component. A person, who has a parent or sibling with Alzheimer’s disease, or late onset dementia, has a very slight increased risk, but genes are not a reliable indicator of diagnosis.

5. People with Dementia Cannot Participate in or Enjoy Activities

This is a common misconception about people dealing with dementia. There is absolutely no reason why people with dementia can’t live meaningful, active, and purposeful lives.

With new methods of diagnosis, people are able to work with their loved ones to alter their daily lives and adjust to their limitations sooner. The earlier someone is diagnosed the earlier they can be treated, change their habits, and educate loved ones. In later stages, it is important to remain positive and treat them as individuals worthy of a full life. Those with dementia can still participate in activities, give and receive love, laugh, share, and have great moments of joy.


Tennille Kerrigan

Tenille is the president of Senior Helpers Canada, the premier franchise that delivers on what families and their loved ones need most. She has bachelor’s degree in business administration from York University, and has over 10 years of experience as a business owner and director. With Senior Helpers, our franchisees provide the professionalism and expert care that families and their aging loved ones require.

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