7 Myths About Alzheimer's Disease

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Ellen Greenlaw on December 13, 2020
  • Couple researching information on the computer
    New research offers answers about Alzheimer’s.
    There are still many unknowns about Alzheimer’s disease, such as what causes the condition and how to prevent it. But there is much experts do know, and new research uncovers more answers all the time. A better understanding of the disease will hopefully lead to new and more effective treatments. Learn how you can separate myth from fact.
  • nurse consoling patient
    Myth 1: Memory loss means you have Alzheimer’s.
    Most people have some memory loss as they age. From time to time, we all forget the name of someone we just met or a movie title. The memory loss of Alzheimer’s is more severe. For example, someone with Alzheimer’s may ask the same question many times or forget words in the middle of a sentence. People with Alzheimer’s may also have trouble doing familiar tasks, such as paying bills or following a recipe.
  • Alzheimer's disease
    Myth 2: Alzheimer’s happens only to older people.
    While it’s true most people with Alzheimer’s are age 65 or older, some people get this disease at a younger age. It can occur anytime from age 30 to 60. When this happens, it’s called early-onset Alzheimer’s. It’s not very common—only about 5% of all people with Alzheimer’s have this form of the illness.
  • happy family, group, family
    Myth 3: Alzheimer’s always runs in families.
    Although experts don’t know what causes late-onset Alzheimer’s, it does not seem to be purely genetic. Researchers believe a mix of environment, genes, and lifestyle factors causes Alzheimer’s. However, early-onset Alzheimer’s—a rare type of the illness—does seem to be caused by a gene and runs in families. If someone in your family has early-onset Alzheimer’s, ask your doctor whether genetic testing is an option.
  • filling in crossword puzzle
    Myth 4: You can prevent Alzheimer’s.
    Right now there is no surefire way to prevent Alzheimer’s. Experts are looking at lifestyle factors, including exercise, diet, and keeping your brain active, that may offer clues as to how to prevent the disease Researchers are also looking at the link between chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. Some research shows controlling these conditions may reduce Alzheimer’s risk.
  • medication
    Myth 5: There are no treatments for Alzheimer’s.
    While it’s true no treatment can stop Alzheimer’s disease, there are some medicines that help treat it. These medicines can help preserve memory, thinking and speaking for a short time—usually about 6 to 12 months. They work best for people who have mild or moderate Alzheimer’s. Finding new Alzheimer’s treatments and ways to prevent the disease is a focus of research all over the world.
  • Helping Grandmother Walk
    Myth 6: Everyone with dementia has Alzheimer’s.
    Dementia is a loss of mental skills, such as reasoning, memory and thinking. Although Alzheimer’s is the number one cause of dementia in older people, it is not the only cause. It is possible to have dementia and not have Alzheimer’s. Stroke is another major cause of dementia. Dementia is also a symptom of Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease.
  • Men Receiving a CAT Scan
    Myth 7: It’s easy to diagnose Alzheimer’s.
    There is no one test that checks for Alzheimer’s. Doctors diagnose Alzheimer’s by asking questions about symptoms and looking for certain changes in daily routines. They may also perform blood tests or brain scans to rule out other problems. With this information, doctors can tell if a patient has Alzheimer’s about 90% of the time. Certain people are candidates for a special brain scan called a PET scan. It can identify changes in the brain that some research suggests are hallmarks of Alzheimer’s, but it’s not a definitive diagnosis. Currently, the only way to be certain someone had Alzheimer’s is to check his or her brain after death.
7 Myths About Alzheimer's Disease

About The Author

  1. Alzheimer’s disease genetics fact sheet. National Institutes of Health. http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/alzheimers-disease-genetics-fact-sheet
  2. Alzheimer’s disease: prevention. NIH Senior Health. http://nihseniorhealth.gov/alzheimersdisease/prevention/01.html
  3. Alzheimer’s disease: what is Alzheimer’s disease? NIH Senior Health. http://nihseniorhealth.gov/alzheimersdisease/whatisalzheimersdisease/01.html
  4. Alzheimer’s disease. FamilyDoctor.org. http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease.html
  5. Alzheimer’s disease: treatments. NIH Senior Health. http://nihseniorhealth.gov/alzheimersdisease/treatments/01.html
  6. Alzheimer’s Myths: Alzheimer’s Association. http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_myths_about_alzheimers.asp
  7. Frequently Asked Questions About Beta-Amyloid Imaging. http://www.alz.org/documents_custom/hcp_faq_auc.pdf
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Last Review Date: 2020 Dec 13
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.