7 Memory Loss Myths
Believe it or not, the brain weighs a mere three pounds. And yet, those three pounds are vital to every aspect of life. Our brain is responsible for our best days and our worst. Our brain creates our greatest courage and our worst fears. Our brain houses our dearest memories and the memories we’d rather forget.
And for most of us, the fear of forgetting is terrifying. The good news? Much of what we have heard about memory loss is incorrect. Doctors and researchers continue to make impressive and unprecedented discoveries in the study of the brain that should give us reason to rest well tonight.
Here are 7 common myths about memory loss that we would do well to forget:
Myth #1: Memory loss is a certain sign of Alzheimer’s disease
According to research done by a major university, when it comes to the health condition people fear most, Alzheimer’s disease ranks number two, only after cancer. Which means (for many of us) we panic at the first sign of a memory slip. But there are actually many reasons our minds can play tricks on us that are not evidence of something sinister. Take, for instance, being distracted, tired or busy.
Myth #2: Memory loss happens with age and little/nothing can be done to change it
Science continues to teach us incredible things about the brain and memory. Because of this, researchers are more confident now than ever that we can improve our brain health, just as we can (and should!) improve our health in other areas. Diet, exercise, habits and rest play key roles in maintaining and bettering the memory.
Myth #3: Memory loss is prevented by doing crossword puzzles
To be fair, this one isn’t entirely a myth. Crossword puzzles can be helpful in stimulating the mind and strengthening the memory. However, crossword puzzles primarily strengthen one specific part of the memory known as fluency – or the ability to retrieve specific words. Crossword puzzles don’t address memory as a whole. So just as a bodybuilder can’t expect to strengthen all of the muscles in his body just by toning his arms, neither can we prevent memory loss just by doing one exercise (such as crossword puzzles). Our brains require us to learn new skills and new exercises in new ways.
Myth #4: Memory loss is a consequence of growing older
Surprisingly, the average age for someone to experience memory loss is only 57, and new studies show that it can start for people as early as age 45. What does this mean? First, it is not limited to the 65+ crowd. Second, vigilance is required in all of us with regard to our minds. If we, or someone we love, is showing signs of a failing memory, we must be honest with each other and our doctors in order to see if testing should be done. Brain imaging scans can reveal concerns (with time to slow progression!) or give us peace of mind that nothing is wrong.
Myth #5: Memory loss is preventable with good personal care
Caring for our bodies and minds is a good idea – and goes a long way in helping us avoid the painful effects of memory loss. Statistically, good health goes a long way. But it should be noted that there is no way to entirely prevent the possibility of dementia. Just as is the case with most health issues or concerns, biology and genetics play a large role. This shouldn’t discourage us from pursuing healthy, vibrant lives, but instead should inspire us to do whatever we can to fight the effects of a body and brain susceptible to sickness. And it should remove from us any guilt we may feel from suffering with memory loss.
Myth #6: Memory loss is connected to use of aluminum
Especially during the 1960s to 1970s, researchers were concerned that there could be a link between Alzheimer’s and use of aluminum (for cooking or when drinking out of cans, etc.). This concern led to widespread belief that aluminum was a culprit in memory loss. In the years since, various and careful study has failed to produce any evidence that aluminum is responsible for Alzheimer’s. In fact, no research indicates that general, daily use of aluminum poses any real threat in this regard.
Myth #7: Memory loss means eventual absence of any quality of life
To be sure, nobody wants to be diagnosed with dementia. Though treatment options continue to improve at the speed of light, the reality is that there is currently no cure for the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. It is a difficult and discouraging diagnosis for the patient and the patient’s family. That said, finding the right team of caring and compassionate professionals who can assist you and your family on the memory loss journey is essential. No longer does memory loss mean loss of independence or the ability to enjoy life to its fullest.
The Brielle offers full-service assisted living and memory care in a park-like setting on Staten Island. Trained, caring staff offers you or the one you love the support you need and the freedom you crave. Our convenient location, in combination with our robust wellness philosophy and compassionate memory care, means you get unparalleled value. Contact us today to see if you and your goals could benefit from our vibrant community.