Poll shows deep public misunderstandings about Alzheimer’s
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
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.