By Alycia Gordan, Contributing author, a freelance writer and editor who is passionate about health, technology and lifestyle. She has a degree in health sciences.
The primary concern of patients and their caregivers in Dementia is to face the societal stigma. These myths and misconceptions make it even harder for a person to lead a normal life despite challenging medical conditions.
Many people with diseases report to their doctors about being misunderstood by society. Stigma can be known as a negative label used to tag a person with a disability or illness. These myths and stigmas would have been okay if they were not directly interfering with the well-being of a person.
When labeled as a ‘sick person’ or a ‘person with dementia,’ many people are unable to:
- Seek early medical treatment
- Receive early diagnosis or any information on what causes dementia
- Working towards their future goals
- Making new friends or a support system
- Taking part in clinical trials or available treatments
We need to fight these stigmas and help these fellow humans lead a peaceful life through strong support. It doesn’t matter what people think, but if that thinking is affecting the patient, the caregivers should strictly put their foot down and correct the misconceptions. In this article, we are highlighting some common myths people associate with Dementia and the reality behind them:
8 myths about dementia you shouldn’t believe
Memory loss and dementia are the same:
This myth is as old as time. Most of us believe that people who have memory loss must have Dementia. In reality, memory loss can be caused by a multitude of factors like depression, stroke, medicine side-effects, vitamin deficiency, etc.
Moreover, all humans face the problem of age-related forgetfulness that has nothing to do with dementia. Next time someone complains of forgetting stuff, don’t think they are becoming a patient of Dementia!
People with Dementia don’t know what’s happening to them:
This is also a huge misconception, mostly fueled by the entertainment industry that shows people with Dementia as naïve. Very often, people with Dementia understand what’s happening and want to work on ways to improve their health. You should not keep them out of the conversation. Don’t whisper to their family or career in front of them. Keep the person on the same page and include them in conversation.
If the person is a friend or a loved one, communicate directly with them but also give them time to collect their thoughts when responding to you.
Only old people have Dementia:
This is not true. Dementia can befall anyone, regardless of age. It is common to see Dementia symptoms in people over the age of 65, but other health issues can also bring it in early ages. People diagnosed early may have a family history of dementia, and this is mostly categorized under younger onset dementia.
Dementia is the downfall of your health:
This is not true. Quite often, we look at people with Dementia as someone for whom it is too late. Although the cure for Dementia has not been found yet, lots of steps can be taken to minimize the effect of Dementia on a person and their loved ones.
These steps can help to stabilize the symptoms of Dementia and help the person live well in happiness. Medical treatment, health education, sports and community exercises can help to minimize the damage.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s are the same:
There is a big difference between Dementia and Alzheimer’s. Dementia itself is like an umbrella term that encompasses a huge array of symptoms that occur when brain cells start malfunctioning. This leads to some diseases that damage nerve cells in the brain.
One of these many diseases in Alzheimer’s disease. Others include Lewy Body, Frontotemporal Dementia, etc. It is important that you read about these conditions before categorizing someone by a popular myth.
Correcting people in their verbal errors is okay:
When your friend or loved one is in a state of forgetfulness, they will make verbal errors or mistake you for someone else. This requires an ample amount of attention, and you must care for these people with extreme patience.
It is recommended that you do not correct every error and let them complete their conversation. If you correct a mistake and cut them off, they will end up being confused and will forget what they were talking about. Be encouraging, support their topic and make them feel at home even if they are mistaking you for someone else.
Music leads to memory loss:
A common delusion about music is that it leads to ‘brain shrinkage’ and harms the memory. Researchers picked up the topic and found out otherwise. Music turns out to be an easy, cost-effective option for therapy for those with Dementia.
For the once happy, outgoing person who has forgotten the old ways of his life, music can be a beautiful way of reconnecting. Music connects the soul and often makes people remember a long-forgotten memory that makes them feel better.
Chicago Tribune reports that a study that applied musical talents in a therapeutic setting resulted in participants feeling more relaxed for the rest of the week. Those who indulged in music before Dementia enjoyed the session and connected with their former selves.
Concussions in youth cause Dementia:
This myth has gained popularity because a few former football players developed Dementia in their old age. However, this is not entirely true. Scientists are still working on the connection, and no solid statement has been given to the connection between concussions that lead to Dementia. “There is a suspicion that concussions in young or middle age increase the risk for dementia in old age, and we are trying to study this now.” Says Paul B. Rosenberg, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences in the division of geriatric psychiatry and neuropsychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.
If your dear friend or a loved one is suffering from a condition that is affecting their mental health, you should try your best to start educating your support system on the condition. Elders and children alike should be told that dementia is not as these myths try to project it. Moreover, an individual can go through a dementia test if they’re facing memory problems. Proper awareness can make the life of a person easy and save their health from further damage.
Alycia Gordan is a freelance writer who loves to read and write articles on healthcare technology, fitness and lifestyle. She is a tech junkie and divides her time between travel and writing. You can find her on Twitter: @meetalycia
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