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Understanding Memory Loss: Busting Common Myths

serious senior woman_ Understanding memory loss in san Antonio texas

Many people have a certain image that comes to mind when they picture memory loss: an older person wandering around confused, unable to remember where they live or what year it is. They may envision a specialized memory care neighborhood as stiff, institutionalized, and dull. 

In reality, however, these generalizations are no more than stereotypes and misunderstandings, stemmed by lack of awareness or information. Not only are they incorrect, but they can also be hurtful to individuals and families living with memory loss.  

Still, memory loss is far from straightforward, and even those living with it can have a hard time understanding its complexities. Franklin Park Senior Living offers Alzheimer’s and dementia care across San Antonio, Texas. 

With so many misconceptions surrounding the subject, we’re busting some common myths about memory loss in hopes that people will better understand it. 

Myth #1: All memory loss is Alzheimer’s disease.

When people think of memory loss, they tend to automatically think of Alzheimer’s disease. However, Alzheimer’s disease is not the only type of memory loss; in fact, it’s not even the only type of dementia. Dementia itself is not even a disease—it refers to a set of symptoms that interfere with daily life. 

While it’s estimated that Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases, other types of dementia can cause memory loss and other changes, including Lewy Body dementia, vascular dementia, or dementia brought on by disorders such as Parkinson’s or Huntington’s. 

Beyond that, memory loss can be caused by things other than dementia, as well. For example, depression, medication side effects, head injuries, and vitamin deficiencies are additional causes for memory impairments. 

Myth #2: Dementia and memory loss are unavoidable. 

It’s often thought that for older adults, memory loss is inevitable or that Alzheimer’s disease is a normal part of aging. While experts still debate this topic, there is strong evidence that supports the idea that living a healthy lifestyle when you’re younger can help prevent the risk of dementia as you age. 

Of course, there are other factors to consider, like genetics and pre-existing conditions, but overall, living a healthy and active lifestyle can help reduce your risk for memory loss. Here are some strategies you can start implementing today: 

  • Get the recommended amount of physical activity 
  • Eat a balanced diet of whole foods 
  • Don’t smoke or drink alcohol excessively
  • Manage and control any health issues like high blood pressure or diabetes 
  • Stay socially active and engaged 
  • Keep your mind active with puzzles and tests 

Myth #3: Any type of forgetfulness is dementia. 

It’s important to understand that not all memory loss and forgetfulness mean dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Forgetting things and getting confused are standard parts of aging, but many people are quick to assume the worst when they misplace their car keys or forget an appointment. 

More severe memory loss, however, interferes with daily life and can impact the overall quality of life. So while misplacing your keys is not typically a cause for concern, forgetting how to get home or finding your keys in the freezer should be more alarming. 

In addition, dementia can cause other symptoms beyond memory loss. Many people with dementia will experience personality changes, difficulties with communication, and loss of interest in activities and hobbies. 

Myth #4: Individuals with memory loss are oblivious and forget everything. 

Many people assume that dementia or memory loss makes people “senile”—forgetting their name, being suspicious of close family, or imagining themselves in the wrong year. While episodes like this can happen in the later stages of dementia, individuals can still talk, communicate, and remember in the earlier stages. 

Dementia typically impacts memory by blocking the ability to create new memories or making it more difficult to retrieve old memories. This is why a person with dementia is more apt to remember their wedding day than what they had for breakfast that morning. 

Regardless of what a person remembers and how they act, though, it’s important to treat individuals with dementia with respect and dignity. They are the same person they’ve always been, despite what is happening in their brain. 

Myth #5: Memory loss means loss of quality of life. 

While it’s true that memory loss is difficult and discouraging, life doesn’t have to end with a dementia diagnosis. There may be hurdles to overcome, but life can still be fulfilling and happy, with new moments and memories. Our society is more accommodating than ever before for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, offering specialized programs and research efforts to find a cure. 

Understanding memory loss can be complicated and confusing, and it might take time to overcome your misconceptions and “re-learn” what you thought you knew. Franklin Park Senior Living is proud to offer specialized Alzheimer’s and dementia care in San Antonio, Texas. Our dedicated memory care program delivers focused and personalized care to residents, ensuring that they are creating meaningful moments and enjoying the highest quality of life.

If you are interested in understanding more about Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss, and dementia care at Franklin Park, we invite you to explore our blog.