January is Alzheimer's Awareness Month. 

The month is dedicated to improving understanding, reducing fear, and challenging the myths/misinformation about dementia. 

Currently, more than half of Albertans have the wrong idea about the link between genetics and a dementia diagnosis, with 56% stating that they believe dementia is primarily inherited through family genes. 

Less than 5% of dementia is hereditary and most instances do not trace back to genetics. There was a recent survey that showed 57% of local respondents agree that dementia is the health condition they fear most about getting in the future.

"There are over 100 different brain diseases that contribute to dementia. It's a very complicated disease. Alzheimer's is a type of dementia," said Megan Williams, Communications Specialist at Alzheimer Calgary. 

The misconception that dementia is primarily genetic is significant, leading to unnecessary panic, worry, and anxiety among those with a diagnosis in their family tree, while on the other hand, those with no dementia in their families may miss opportunities to reduce their risk or understand symptoms.

Willams added that understanding the facts about Alzheimer's and other types of dementia is crucial for informed decision-making, symptom awareness, and proactive risk reduction measures.

The reality of the matter is that anyone can develop dementia at any age, income level, education level, cultural background, or family history.

The good news is that having a diagnosis of dementia doesn't signal the end of a meaningful life. 

"Over 90% of dementia cases are not genetic, and there is overwhelming agreement that people can live meaningful lives for months after receiving a diagnosis of dementia (85%), and that a healthy lifestyle can reduce a person’s risk for developing dementia (82%)," it said in a press release from Alzheimer Calgary. 

There are a couple of things that will help reduce the risk of dementia including prioritizing quality sleep, a healthy diet, social connection, stress reduction, and regular exercise. 

"There are lots of proven links that exercise just helps with things that you need to keep your, heart, your brain, and your body healthy," explained Williams. 

For more information about Alzheimer awareness visit stillme.ca.

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