Brain Health and Alzheimer’s Disease: Myth vs Fact

Knowing the common myths and facts behind brain health and Alzheimer’s will help you better understand the disease.

All types of memory loss are a natural part of aging.

Memory loss can be a natural part of aging, but not all memory loss is age-related. It can be difficult to tell the differences between normal memory loss and the potential signs of Alzheimer's. If you or a loved one is experiencing memory loss, difficulties performing daily tasks, or other changes, knowing what to look for can help decide if it's time to see a doctor.

Lack of sleep has nothing to do with getting dementia.

Sleep is important to your brain health. Studies have shown that people in their 50s and 60s who get 6 hours of sleep or less per night are 30% more likely to develop dementia than those who received 7 hours of sleep.

There is nothing you can do to improve your brain health or change your risk of getting dementia.

Research has shown that adopting certain lifestyle changes may help keep your brain healthy and reduce your risk of developing dementia. These include exercising, eating well, getting enough sleep, staying mentally and socially active, and managing other health concerns, such as smoking, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Alzheimer’s and dementia are the same thing.

Dementia refers to a group of symptoms that include impaired memory, thinking, reasoning, and behavior. Alzheimer’s is just one type of dementia, though it is the most common. Other forms of dementia include Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia, vascular dementia, and mixed dementia.

Everyone is at an equal risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

The greatest risk factors for Alzheimer’s include age, genetics, and family history. In addition, women, Black Americans, and Hispanics/Latinos are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s, but less likely to be diagnosed in a timely manner. When they are, it is typically at a later stage, when the costs of care have increased and the ability to receive treatment may be limited. In fact, older Black Americans and Hispanics/Latinos are more likely to have missed diagnoses compared to older White Americans.

Only people older than 65 are diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer’s can affect some people as early as in their 30s. About 5% to 6% of people with Alzheimer’s disease develop symptoms before age 65. This is called “early-onset Alzheimer’s.”

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) always leads to Alzheimer’s.

MCI does not always lead to Alzheimer's disease, but people with MCI are more likely to develop Alzheimer's and symptoms of dementia. If you notice symptoms that start to affect your daily activities, it's important to talk with a doctor. They can provide you with the information and support you need.

If you’re diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, you’ll lose your independence right away.

With the help of the right services and support, a person may be able to live independently with Alzheimer's disease for years after a diagnosis. People with mild symptoms of Alzheimer’s may continue to work, stay active, and participate in their favorite activities on their own or with occasional help from loved ones. A timely diagnosis can help you and your loved one make healthy lifestyle changes earlier, which may improve overall quality of life and well-being.

Alzheimer’s Statistics

See the statistics behind Alzheimer’s disease.