Myths About Dementia

Myths About Dementia

Most Common Myth 

There is no point in obtaining or facing the diagnosis. This is a huge mistake. It affects the overall experience of diagnosed and caregiver. Getting the diagnosis allows for:

  • planning for care.
  • conversations with loved one about their wishes and preferences while they’re still lucid. Helps absolve self-doubt and guilt over decision making down the road.
  • securing documents for Power of Attorney and other decisions of this type. If you wait, that process is more difficult and more expensive.
  • education for caregiver about the disease.
  • connection to a community agency, case manager, and/or support group.
  • access to medications which may slow progression of some forms of dementia.

Most Surprising Myths

  • The person with dementia is intentionally acting stubborn, lacking in initiative or being needy. It is very difficult but important to understand why a diagnosed person no longer knows how to do something. Understanding this aspect of the disease makes it easier to conjure up a sympathetic response with a loved one.
  • People believe that the diagnosed person is in denial of the diagnosis. In reality, the diagnosed person is not able to understand the diagnosis. Often when caregivers have the conversation with the diagnosed, the loved one cannot comprehend what the diagnosis or prognosis means, even when their language skills remain intact. The condition is Anosognosia, and is a byproduct of changes to the brain. Anosognosia is different than denial. It is not a coping mechanism, it is an inability to process that specifically occurs with dementia.

Myth

  • A caregiver can accurately assess their loved one’s needs.

The caregiver may know their loved one and their needs best, but lacks objectivity about the person’s functioning because of the close relationship and emotional component. Diagnosed people are incredibly skilled at masking symptoms, fixing mistakes, making jokes, making excuses, accusing others. The ability to mask cognitive impairment is remarkable and a caregiver can be fooled into thinking loved one is either more or less functional than they appear.

About the Author Grace Johnson

Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), State of New York Long Island Alzheimer's and Dementia Center

Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease or dementia?