Dementia Myths and Misconceptions

In this blog we tackle common myths about dementia to help you separate fact from fiction, so you can better help people with the condition.


In this blog we tackle common myths about dementia to help you separate fact from fiction, so you can better help people with the condition.

Many people think dementia is itself a disease. In fact, it’s not something you can catch at all. Dementia is actually an umbrella term for the symptoms caused by conditions that develop over time, which affect the brain and impair behaviour.

In this blog, we’ll be tackling dementia myths and misconceptions just like that one to help you separate fact from fiction. Whether you’re a carer for someone you love, a dementia sufferer, or simply interested in learning about the topic, we hope this post will leave you with a better understanding of the condition and better equipped to help those diagnosed with it.

1. Dementia doesn’t automatically happen as you age

Our first common myth about dementia implies it happens to everyone. Not so. While the mind might slow down somewhat with age, there is a big difference between the forgetfulness of old age and actual dementia. 

Granted, the risks of developing some types of dementia do increase with age. 6-8% of adults aged 65 and older have Alzheimer’s (more on that next), which rises to almost 30% by age 85. But that’s far from being an automatic result of the ageing process. Meanwhile, there are over 42,000 people in the UK who have dementia and are under the age of 65.

There are also other diseases which can lead to dementia including Lyme disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntingdon’s disease and some forms of Multiple Sclerosis.

2. Dementia and Alzheimer’s aren’t the same thing

care worker having lunch with dementia patient

One of the most common myths and misconceptions about dementia is that it’s another word for Alzheimer’s disease. The two terms often get used interchangeably in casual conversation, but Alzheimer’s is only one form of dementia – albeit the most prevalent one. In fact, it accounts for somewhere between 50-75% of all dementia cases.

Other forms of dementia include fronto-temporal dementia, Lewy body dementia, and vascular dementia, as well as those linked to alcohol use and form which mix more than one type of dementia.


3. Dementia is not hereditary

Another common myth about dementia is that if a family member has dementia, you will automatically develop it. That simply isn’t true. You may have a higher risk of developing dementia, but it certainly isn’t inevitable. 

Alzheimer’s disease is more prone to being passed on, but some of the other causes mentioned above are far less likely. So, if you have a family member who has dementia, it’s best to take some time to understand why before resigning yourself to getting it too.


4. People with dementia often know what’s happening – they just have trouble communicating their needs.

Did you know that the parts of the brain responsible for awareness and speech are entirely different? That means a person with dementia will often be fully aware of what’s happening around them but simply not be able to communicate what they need. Think of it like trying to run underwater – you know what to do, but making yourself do it is met with so much resistance. 

If you care for someone with dementia, try taking notes of their behaviour. It might help you spot patterns and decipher their needs faster in future.


5. There’s no cure for dementia – but there are treatment options available

Another common misconception about dementia is that because it’s incurable, people think the situation is hopeless. There are actually lots of medications that can slow the onset of dementia symptoms and prolong a person’s lucidity and independence. Additionally, treating conditions like anaemia, depression and thyroid disorders can all play a part in keeping dementia at bay for longer, giving you more precious time with a loved one.


6. There are things you can do to lower your risk of dementia

In tackling dementia myths and misconceptions, it’s important to look at prevention. Thankfully, certain activities and rituals can reduce your risk of developing a disease that causes dementia. Even better, they aren’t that difficult to do:

  • Taking regular exercise (even lightly) is one
  • Having a healthy balanced diet involving lots of fresh fruit and veg is another
  • Lastly, you should keep your mind sharp by developing an active social life and engaging hobbies where you need to solve problems.

Do all three, and you might just have a better chance of avoiding a dementia diagnosis.

7. People with dementia are not always aggressive or unmanageable

The last of our common myths and misconceptions about dementia is that dementia eventually leads someone to becoming violent and unruly. 

While that can happen, it isn’t a given. In fact, this study found that less than half of people with dementia become aggressive. In those that do, there are two main causes. One is physical pain. The other is a poor relationship with a caregiver. This just goes to show how important that bond with a loved one or carer can be.

Do you need help caring for someone with dementia?

If your loved one is in the early stages of dementia, they may benefit from regular home care visits. Or, if their condition has progressed, you might decide that continuous live-in care is the better option. 

We provide both options, with a team of warm, compassionate and dedicated carers trained to deal with the challenges of dementia care.

Contact us today to find out more.