Poll shows deep pub­lic mis­un­der­stand­ings about Alzheimer’s

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By WANG HONGYI

wanghongyi@chi­nadaily. com.cn

A re­cent poll re­vealed 80 per­cent of the Chi­nese sur­veyed in­cor­rectly be­lieve that Alzheimer’s dis­ease is a typ­i­cal part of ag­ing.

The US-based Alzheimer’s As­so­ci­a­tion, a global vol­un­tary health or­ga­ni­za­tion in­volved in Alzheimer’s care, sup­port and re­search, polled more than 6,300 res­i­dents aged 18 or above in 12 coun­tries in­clud­ing China. The group was try­ing to find out how people look at this fa­tal, pro­gres­sive dis­ease that af­fects at least 44 mil­lion glob­ally.

The re­sults show that the dis­ease is widely mis­un­der­stood. Nearly 60 per­cent of people sur­veyed in­cor­rectly be­lieve that Alzheimer’s dis­ease is a typ­i­cal part of ag­ing, while in China, the per­cent­age is as high as two thirds.

Mean­while, 68 per­cent of the Chi­nese in­cor­rectly be­lieve that fam­ily dis­ease his­tory is the de­ci­sive risk fac­tor for Alzheimer’s. And about one third of the Chi­nese in­cor­rectly be­lieve Alzheimer’s is not a fa­tal dis­ease.

“Alzheimer’s is a dev­as­tat­ing dis­ease that slowly robs people of their in­de­pen­dence and even­tu­ally their lives,” said Harry Johns, pres­i­dent and CEO of the as­so­ci­a­tion.“Sadly, Alzheimer’s dis­ease knows no bounds. Any­one with a brain is at risk for Alzheimer’s dis­ease, so ev­ery­one with a brain should join the fight against it,” Johns added.

In Shang­hai, med­i­cal ex­perts have al­ready called for more early de­tec­tion and

Sad‘

ly, Alzheimer’s dis­ease knows no bounds. Any­one with a brain is at risk for Alzheimer’s dis­ease, so ev­ery­one with a brain should join the fight against it.” HARRY JOHNS PRES­I­DENT AND CEO OF ALZHEIMER’S AS­SO­CI­A­TION

in­ter­ven­tion in Alzheimer’s cases as the city’s ag­ing pop­u­la­tion is in­creases rapidly.

At least 300,000 people in the city suf­fer from Alzheimer’s dis­ease, but many of them don’t re­ceive the proper treat­ment due to lack of aware­ness, ex­perts said at the In­ter­na­tional Sym­po­sium on Ag­ing and Medicine held in Shang­hai ear­lier this month.

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s dis­ease, but early de­tec­tion and in­ter­ven­tion can help pre­vent the dis­ease from de­vel­op­ing, says Bao Zhi­jun, vice- pres­i­dent of Huadong Hospi­tal in Shang­hai.

Ex­perts say that the in­ci­dence of the dis­ease among people 60 and older is 20 to 30 per­cent, and up to 50 per­cent among those 80 and older.

People need to be on the alert for symp­toms of Alzheimer’s at an ear­lier age, Bao noted.

“It’s very nec­es­sary to make the pub­lic aware of the dis­ease, and also give more ed­u­ca­tion to people,” he said.

De­spite a lack of un­der­stand­ing of Alzheimer’s, it is still re­port­edly one of the most feared dis­eases. When asked what dis­ease or con­di­tion they were most afraid of get­ting, a quar­ter of people selected Alzheimer’s, sec­ond only to cancer, the re­port said.

The Alzheimer’s As­so­ci­a­tion says the world­wide preva­lence of Alzheimer’s dis­ease and other de­men­tias is ex­pected to soar to 76 mil­lion by 2030. And a large ma­jor­ity of people sur­veyed, about 71 per­cent, said that the govern­ment is re­spon­si­ble for help­ing find a cure or way to pre­vent Alzheimer’s. In China, the per­cent­age is 65 per­cent.

“De­spite an ob­vi­ous and large knowl­edge gap, people around the world still rec­og­nize the threat the Alzheimer’s cri­sis pre­sents and hold their govern­ment ac­count­able for find­ing a cure and preven­tion,” said Johns.

When asked to con­sider their health pri­or­i­ties, about 96 per­cent of people sur­veyed said that be­ing self­suffi and not depend­ing on oth­ers, in­evitabil­ity as Alzheimer’s pro­gresses, is im­por­tant. Mean­while, be­ing able to pay for longterm care and car­ing for el­derly par­ents at home were also im­por­tant, ac­count­ing for 88 per­cent and 86 per­cent of those sur­veyed re­spec­tively, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

Dur­ing the in­au­gu­ral Alzheimer’s & Brain Aware­ness Month in June, the Alzheimer’s As­so­ci­a­tion ini­ti­ated a global con­ver­sa­tion about Alzheimer’s, and people around the world are en­cour­aged to come to­gether and raise aware­ness in the fight against Alzheimer’s.

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