WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE 28/WYOU 22 EYEWITNESS NEWS) — It’s no secret that Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are major public health issues but what is also concerning is a myth about cognitive decline. A new study finds most adults 40 and older falsely think the decline is inevitable.
Health experts say believing cognitive decline is inevitable is a big mistake. They say there are four key reasons you should not avoid talking to your doctor about dementia.
AARP research shows many adults believe they’ll experience cognitive impairment in their lifetime, a gross exaggeration of the actual number who do.
“Almost half of adults 40 and older think that they’re going to get dementia when the facts are it’s much more rare than that. It’s only about 11 percent of people 65 and older,” said Sarah Lenz Lock, AARP’s SVP for Policy and Executive Director of the Global Council on Brain Health.
But for those who may have signs of dementia, AARP says stigma is proving to be a big obstacle.
“Stigma is a very serious concern and so much so that it stops people from having open conversations with their doctor,” said Lenz Lock.
AARP cites four reasons you should not avoid talking to your doctor about cognitive decline. The first? Your concerns about memory loss, confusion and forgetfulness may have nothing to do with dementia at all.
Things like thyroid disease, a medication interaction or vitamin B12 deficiency may be the problem. Even depression which can lead to social isolation may be to blame.
“Social isolation can increase your dementia risk by 50 percent,” said Lenz Lock.
A second reason to talk with your doctor about dementia? Certain brain changes are normal as we age. Just because the mental processing speed may be a bit slower, it doesn’t mean it’s dementia.
A third reason to have that medical discussion? To develop a plan with your doctor to tackle dementia head-on. There is no benefit to a delayed diagnosis.
“And it stops them from finding out that there are treatments right now that you can do both to reduce your risk for cognitive decline as you age but also improve the quality of life if you have dementia both for yourself and for the caregivers,” stated Lenz Lock.
A fourth reason to talk with your doctor about dementia concerns? The small lifestyle changes you can make can have a big impact.
Getting high blood pressure under control, routinely getting a good night’s sleep, a healthy diet and regular exercise can all help stave off cognitive decline.
Head to AARP website to learn more regarding dementia research and resources.