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ElderLaw News

ElderLaw News is a weekly e-newsletter that brings you reports of legal developments and other trends of vital interest to seniors and their advocates. This newsletter is brought to you by The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., William S. Fralin, Esq., President.

Myths About Alzheimer's Disease

There are many myths about Alzheimer's which people accept as common knowledge.

However, many of these so-called "facts" couldn't be further from the truth. For instance, the Alzheimer's Association lists 8 myths associated with the disease. They are:

Myth #1 - Memory loss is part of the aging process. While some memory lapses happen to all of us, Alzheimer's is a disease in which cells of the brain are affected and eventually cease to function. Alzheimer's patients begin by forgetting how to find their way home from familiar locations and eventually forgetting how to swallow in the final stages of the disease. Alzheimer's is the cause of 70-80% of dementia cases, according to Dr. Robert Stern. Other causes of dementia, such as certain thyroid conditions or vitamin deficiencies, are reversible, but Alzheimer's is not. (www.alzheimersreadingroom.com, May 14, 2011.)

Myth #2 - Alzheimer's is not fatal. Alzheimer's is a fatal disease. In the final stages, patients can no longer speak, talk, walk, and even swallow. Its victims cannot remember the steps to perform many physical acts. While some may die of other conditions before the final stages develop, many die of the disease itself.

Myth #3 - Only older people get Alzheimer's. Unfortunately, it is not the case that only older people get Alzheimer's. People in their 30s, 40s, and 50s have been affected, representing about 4% of the people who develop Alzheimer's. This is called younger-onset Alzheimer's.

Myth #4 - Drinking out of aluminum cans or cooking in aluminum pots and pans can lead to Alzheimer's. During the 1960s and 1970s, a popular notion was that trace elements from using aluminum products was a cause of Alzheimer's. This theory has been debunked.

Myth #5 - Aspertame causes memory loss. This is another notion that was in vogue for a time, but it, too, has been disproven. In May of 2006, the FDA said that it had no evidence that artificial sweeteners caused Alzheimer's.

Myth #6 - Flu shots increase the risk of Alzheimer's. The chief proponent of this theory was a doctor in South Carolina whose license has now been suspended. In fact other studies report just the opposite. Older adults who have vaccinations for diphtheria or tetanus, polio, and influenza have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer's.

Myth #7 - Silver dental fillings increase the risk of Alzheimer's. Once again, this theory has been discredited. Silver fillings do contain mercury, which in certain forms can be toxic to the brain. However, fillings contain other substances, which together do not pose a threat, according to many public health organizations and the World Health Organization.

Myth #8 - There are treatments available to stop the progression of Alzheimer's disease. Unfortunately, this statement is not true either. There are certain drugs now on the market which slow the disease for about 6-12 months, but even these don't even work for all who have the disease.

In short, Alzheimer's is an incurable disease at this stage of medical research. Hopefully, this will change in the future and not always be the case. (Information taken from www.alz.org)


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The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. is an elder law firm. We represent older persons, disabled persons, their families, and their advocates. The practice of elder law includes estate planning, estate and trust administration, powers of attorney, advance medical directives, titling of assets and designations of beneficiaries, guardianships, conservatorships, and public entitlements such as Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and SSI, disability planning, income tax planning and preparation, care management, and fiduciary services. For more information about The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., please visit our website at http://www.chroniccareadvocacy.com.

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