Debunking 7 common myths about Alzheimer’s disease

Excerpt: Common misconceptions about Alzheimer’s disease stand in the way of understanding the disease and helping those affected. Learn what’s true or false about Alzheimer’s, including the myth that people with Alzheimer’s don’t know and can’t communicate what they want.


There are many myths about Alzheimer’s disease that can add to its potential stigma and stand in the way of understanding and helping people affected. Dispelling some common misconceptions makes it easier to provide supportive care and help each person living with Alzheimer’s disease to lead a good day, every day:

  1. Alzheimer’s and dementia are the same
    Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia; however, dementia is an overall term for a group of symptoms affecting memory, thinking and social abilities, which can be caused by many diseases, including vascular dementia, Lewy Body disease, and frontotemporal disease, says Mayo Clinic.

  2. Memory loss means Alzheimer’s disease
    Although some memory loss is common with aging, that doesn’t necessarily mean a person has the disease. When memory loss affects daily functioning, along with lack of judgement and reasoning, the Alzheimer Society of Canada (ASC) advises visiting a doctor to determine the cause.

  3. Nothing I can do will lower my dementia risk
    Increasing physical activity and mental stimulation, controlling blood pressure and diabetes, managing obesity and depression, and quitting smoking are seven lifestyle measures that can reduce Alzheimer’s risk, reported The Lancet Neurology.

  4. People with Alzheimer’s don’t know or can’t communicate what they want
    trouble communicating it verbally. Understanding the person’s non-verbal communication through facial expressions, other body language, behaviour and the senses become increasingly important as the disease progresses, advises ASC.

  5. All people with Alzheimer’s eventually become aggressive
    Only about 20% of people with Alzheimer’s display significant aggression, reports Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. Aggression has multiple causes, including environmental stress, pain, hunger, noise, and unmet physical and emotional needs, and non-drug, preventive treatments are recommended first.

  6. Correct what a person with dementia says when they are wrong
    Avoid correcting the person, if he or she makes a mistake or forgets something. Respond to the feelings expressed or redirect the conversation to a different topic, advises the National Institute on Aging.

  7. Alzheimer’s is always inherited
    Fewer than 7% of cases are linked to specific genes that cause the early onset inherited familial form of the disease, says ASC. Although various other genes may increase the risk of developing late-onset Alzheimer’s, many people with a late-onset risk gene don’t develop it, says Mayo Clinic.

Chartwell Retirements Residences seeks to support older adults living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, and their families, through their memory care and memory living programs.

The following sources provides references for this blog:
1. Mayo Clinic, online: https://www.mayoclinic.org
2. Alzheimer Society, online: https://alzheimer.ca
3. Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation: https://www.alzinfo.org
4. Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, online: http://health.sunnybrook.ca
5. National Institute on Aging, online: https://www.nia.nih.gov