Facts and Myths about Dementia
This past month David Cassidy, musician and former star of the 1970’s TV series “The Partridge Family,” announced that he is struggling with dementia. When a performer and public figure acknowledges and shares publicly what he/she is going through personally in regard to a condition or diagnosis, this type of information often causes the public to have some questions about “how might that type of diagnosis affect me or a loved one?” Over the years, Mr. Cassidy has been known to have had personal experience as both a family member and an advocate for individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease. He has used his fame and notoriety to help educate the public and also to acknowledge and support the needs of both the individual and his/her care partners throughout the course of the disease progression.
Often times the terms dementia or Alzheimer’s disease are used interchangeably. However, they are not the same. Dementia is actually the broader term which includes the symptoms presented by individuals. Although there are several types of dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association reports that Alzheimer’s disease is the most common. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are loss of mental cognition which includes memory, reasoning, and thinking. Initially, symptoms such as forgetfulness, are sporadic and develop slowly, getting worse over time and eventually increase in severity so that the ability to perform daily tasks independently diminishes. The chart below is a guide to help differentiate between the signs of Alzheimer’s versus typical age-related changes:
|Signs of Alzheimer’s||Typical age-related changes|
|Poor judgment and decision-making||Making a bad decision once in a while|
|Inability to manage a budget||Missing a monthly payment|
|Losing track of the date or the season||Forgetting which day it is and remembering later|
|Difficulty having a conversation||Sometimes forgetting which word to use|
|Misplacing things and being unable|
to retrace steps to find them
|Losing things from time to time|
True or false statements regarding Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a normal part of the aging process. False
Alzheimer’s disease worsens over time. True
With early detection you can get the maximum benefit from the treatments available. True
If you or a loved one is concerned about changes with memory, behavior, or the ability to perform tasks independently, please see your physician. Early detection is a key component in maintaining independence longer. Reference materials and a warning-signs checklist are available on Alz.org and can be completed and brought with you to your doctor’s appointment.
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