Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are fear-inducing prospects. However, before you pull out your wallet to hand over your hard-earned money for products that claim to delay, prevent, or manage Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, make sure you are not getting scammed. There is no cure yet for Alzheimer’s or dementia. Con artists prey on the fear that people experience when they feel they are becoming forgetful, or they watch a loved one decline to the point of not recognizing them anymore.
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) warns that “pseudomedicine” has reached epidemic proportions. A recent article contained strongly-worded warnings about dementia supplement scams.
The Scope of the Problem
Americans spend more than $3 billion a year on over-the-counter supplements that claim to improve cognition and brain health. Many of these products use scientific-sounding terminology in their marketing campaigns, deceiving consumers into thinking that there is science behind the supplements.
Studies show that a couple of ingredients, like vitamin B or the spice curcumin, could possibly support brain health. The vast majority of the “fountain of youth” products that make bold claims about warding off dementia are at best placebos and rip-offs.
Why These Fake Treatments Are Dangerous
Let’s say you developed lightheadedness suddenly and there was a product on the market that claimed to treat your symptoms. You bought the product and used it as directed, but it did not relieve your lightheadedness. If you had gone to the doctor, she could have discovered your symptoms were the result of a heart condition. Since you put false hope in a worthless product, you did not find out about the cardiac condition until you had a heart attack.
Many people who experience signs they think indicate Alzheimer’s disease are actually suffering from a different medical condition. Instead of getting legitimate treatment for their actual illness, they throw away their money on products that make misleading claims and risk a medical emergency for the underlying condition.
The “Pop a Pill” Culture in America
Because of the easy availability of prescription drugs in our country, a culture developed over the last few decades where you can practice all the unhealthy habits you want. If you end up having a disease from the behaviors, your doctor can prescribe a pill that will magically cure all your ills.
Instead of having a healthy lifestyle and protecting your brain from harm, quite a few Americans live recklessly, relying on modern medicine to undo all the damage they do to themselves. Medical research shows that eating lots of fruits and vegetables, along with lean protein, will help you maintain your health throughout your life. Getting regular physical exercise, learning a foreign language, doing word puzzles, and staying socially active can delay or prevent the onset of many diseases, including dementia.
A person might feel that it would be easier to do whatever he wants throughout his life and just take a drug to treat any consequences of the damage that an unhealthy lifestyle inflicts on the body. He sees supplements that claim to improve brain chemistry and function, so he thinks there is a safety net.
Easy answers to dementia are at present proving elusive. Having estate planning to provide options at this point is still critical.
AARP. “Don’t Be Taken in by Dementia ‘Pseudomedicine’.” (accessed September 23, 2019) https://www.aarp.org/health/dementia/info-2019/dementia-pseudomedicine.html