Six Alzheimer’s Myths Debunked. Hint: No One is Immune but Wine is Helpful

by Nancy Wurtzel on September 17, 2013

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The media is saturated with coverage of Alzheimer’s disease.  Yet, even with 10 million news stories that show up in a simple Google search, there is still an incredible amount of confusion surrounding the disease.

Why?  Here’s my opinion.

Many people are afraid of Alzheimer’s disease and consequently avoid news coverage on the topic.  Alzheimer’s is a highly complicated subject, causing some to tune out or become confused by what they read or hear in the media. Sadly, there are those who think this disease has nothing to do with them.  Finally, there will always be people who believe and spread urban legends.

Some of these urban legends drive me crazy and I often hear them repeated by smart, informed individuals.  Here are a few that especially piss me off.

Myth #1: All old people will develop Alzheimer’s.

Reality:  Not True.  Currently, about half of the people over the age of 85 have Alzheimer’s, but many seniors live into their 90s and beyond and never develop the disease.  Also, some people  in their 30s, 40s and early 60s develop early onset Alzheimer’s — long before they can be considered elderly.

Myth #2: No one in my family has ever had Alzheimer’s, so I won’t get it.

Reality: Not so fast.  Even after billions of dollars of research, so much is still unknown about Alzheimer’s disease.  It is difficult to believe, but researchers can’t even agree what causes it.  I told this to someone recently and she didn’t believe me.  It’s true and it should make everyone mad as hell.  So, bottom line is this: just because none of your close relatives have had Alzheimer’s, doesn’t mean you are immune.

Myth #3: I keep misplacing my keys.  I’m convinced I have Alzheimer’s.

Reality:  Do you have other significant symptoms?  If yes, then see a qualified physician who can perform a comprehensive medical exam, including a memory test.  No other symptoms?  Then, please, get over yourself.  Everyone loses their keys.  For god’s sake, buy a key finder.

Myth #4: They just discovered a cure for Alzheimer’s.

Reality: What planet do you live on and where do you get your news?  Not true.  There is no cure.

Myth #5: At least you can’t die from Alzheimer’s disease.

Reality: Wrong!  Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that will eventually cause death.  There is no cure and no effective treatment.  Above all, this myth drives me totally crazy.

Myth #6: I won’t ever get Alzheimer’s because I exercise, eat right, limit stress, drink red wine, use coconut oil and play brain games online.

Reality: We’d all be better off practicing good health habits, so don’t stop.  Personally, I am highly in favor of the red wine.  However, even people in terrific health and with access to the best medical care may still develop Alzheimer’s.  Nothing is a sure thing when it comes to this terrible disease.  Keep your body and mind in tip-top shape because it will make you feel better now.  Honestly, now is all we have, so enjoy it.  And, you can forget the coconut snake oil.  Spend your money on the wine.

*Photo Purchased From iStockPhoto

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1 Carole Brecht July 1, 2015 at 4:26 pm

Great blog! Full of hot topics and important information. Thank you for doing what you do!

2 Galen James Struwe October 22, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Having spent years in the wine industry and recently turning 61, I couldn’t be more delighted with your recommendation to drink more red wine. Also, I love your blog. Glad I found it.

3 Nancy Wurtzel October 22, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Galen…how nice!! Thank you so much!

4 Jim Slatton October 20, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Dear Nancy:

Thank you for all your research and dedication to bringing dementia to the forefront. Most everyone I know has someone in their lives with dementia. A parent, spouse, sibling, other family member or friend. Dementia is the demon that robs us of ourselves. No one is immune. There is nothing fair about it. As you know, I have a mother — who also happens to be your mother — with advanced Alzheimers. I also have a husband with mild cognitive impairment, which may very well lead to Alzheimers. To all your readers I say, live your lives fully and joyfully. Do something good for yourself or another human being every day. Nothing substantial has occurred in Alzheimer’s research for a good many years. My husband’s neurologist apologized to us for not having something more to offer; he was embarrassed. It is too late for my mother. Please let it not be too late for my husband.

Your loving sister,

5 Allen Serfas September 23, 2013 at 11:03 pm

Nancy, love to see the passion that you have for sharing such great content and helping others through the learning curve about this terrible disease.

Keep up the great work!

6 Nancy Wurtzel October 23, 2013 at 7:43 pm

Allen, thank you so much!

7 Irene Olson September 18, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Alzheimer’s has become the new cancer – let me explain.

For many, many years, all of us could say that they know someone who has, or had, cancer.

That’s the way it is for Alzheimer’s and other dementia: all of us can say that we know someone who has Alzheimer’s or died from it.

8 Nancy Wurtzel October 23, 2013 at 7:43 pm

I totally agree, Irene. Please come back again to read…

9 Geek Girl September 18, 2013 at 8:33 am

Misinformation is one of our greatest enemies. People talk fiction like it’s fact. I realize some don’t know better, but they should educate themselves with facts. This applies to everything, not just Alzheimers.

10 Nancy Wurtzel September 18, 2013 at 8:57 am

I agree!!

11 Linda Morse September 17, 2013 at 11:33 pm

Please remember Alzheimer’s is but one of well over 100’s of different types of dementia. NOT ALL DEMENTIA SUFFERERS HAVE ALZHEIMERS. Dementia is an umbrella term and a symptom of many diseases such as Frontal Temporal Lobe or Picks Disease; Lewy Body Disease; Parkinson Disease with Lewy Body; Vascular Dementia etc. Alzheimer’s Associations do a wonderful job world wide and for that we thank them but there are other forms of this illness

12 Nancy Wurtzel September 18, 2013 at 8:28 am

Hi Linda, Good point. I’m doing a future post on just this subject. Thanks for the comment…

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