Alzheimer's Disease: Current Attitudes, Perceptions and Knowledgeby The HealthCentral Editorial Team
National Survey Fact Sheet
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common type of dementia - a progressive brain disease that gradually destroys a person's memory and ability to learn, reason, and communicate. According to the Alzheimer's Association, more than five million Americans are currently living with AD and up to 16 million are estimated to have the disease by 2050.
The Alzheimer's Disease Screening Discussion Group (ADSDG) commissioned the "Alzheimer's Disease: Current Attitudes, Perceptions and Knowledge" survey as the second phase of the group's efforts to explore and address the value of early AD screening, diagnosis and treatment. This online survey of 1,040 U.S. adults age 55 and over was conducted by Harris Interactive. The survey and the ADSDG were sponsored by Eisai Inc. and Pfizer Inc.
Survey results demonstrate the need for increased education among those most impacted by AD. Specifically, about one-half of adults age 55 and over have known someone with AD and one-third suspect someone they know has the disease, yet most (98 percent) remain confused about its signs and symptoms. This lack of knowledge, combined with conflicting attitudes and behaviors also revealed by the survey, highlights the need for increased awareness of disease symptoms and benefits of early diagnosis and treatment.
Responsibility Lies with Loved Ones:
Most Americans age 55 and over believe the responsibility lies with those close to the patient to notice signs of AD and take action.
• 74 percent believe a family member is most likely to recognize the need for screening in a potential AD patient.
Lack of Knowledge is Startling: Despite many Americans age 55 and over having personal experience with AD and believing that close family and friends should be an integral part of recognizing the disease in a loved one, there is a clear lack of knowledge about AD.
• Although about 78 percent believe they could notice the signs of AD in themselves or a loved one, more than 90 percent could not accurately distinguish early disease symptoms from late disease symptoms or symptoms unrelated to AD.
Confusion on AD Signs and Symptoms
43% of participants misidentified at least 1 symptom (out of 5) unrelated to AD as early sign of disease
86% of participants misidentified at least 1 late AD symptom (out of 4) as early sign of AD
98% of adults over age 55 confused about signs and symptoms of AD*
Earlier is Better for Detection and Action: Most adults age 55 and over believe early screening and action is good, if not essential, in detecting AD.
• More than 90 percent believe screening should occur in the early stages as soon as symptoms are suspected, and about 75 percent believe it is important to do routine screenings as part of a physical exam.
• The vast majority of adults age 55 and over (96 percent) think there are various benefits to getting screened for AD early, including timely medical treatment and the chance to prepare financially, emotionally and medically
Behavior Doesn't Mirror Belief: Despite overwhelming public support for early AD screening and action, people do not typically follow-through on their intentions when confronted with the disease head-on.