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Things About Dementia and Alzheimer You Should Know

People react differently to the words

Although dementia and Alzheimer’s are often confused, people tend to have different reactions to hearing each word.

“When you ask them to think about Alzheimer’s disease, they will put that in with other physical health conditions, like heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes,” Phipps said. “And when you ask them to think about dementia, they don’t know what to do with it, and they tend to put it in with things like age and mental health.”

So even though dementia is caused by illnesses like Alzheimer’s, the word itself is conflated with being more of a mental disorder than something caused by a physical disease.

 

Dementia isn’t an inevitable part of getting older

A common misconception is that you get a bit forgetful as you get older, so dementia falls into that as an inevitability that just happens to most people.

“They’ll say, ‘Oh yeah, my grandma had dementia but she was very old,’ so it’s almost followed by an excuse that it was OK because they were old,” Phipps said. “And so I think that drives this kind of view in society that the diseases that cause dementia are not that important because there’s not much you can do about them.”

But this isn’t true. Dementia is caused by diseases. People understand cancer is a disease, that you shouldn’t have it and it’s unfair, Phipps said, but that’s not yet universally accepted by people when it comes to dementia.

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