June 9, 2010
6/9: Alzheimer’s Disease: Americans Knowledgeable About Early Signs
More than three-quarters of U.S. residents are confident they can recognize the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. 76% of Americans report they are informed or very informed about the disease’s early symptoms. This includes a majority — 51% — who say they are informed, and 25% who think they are very informed. One-fifth believes they are not very well informed, and 4% say they are not informed at all.
Despite the large proportion of residents who think they have a solid knowledge base about the disease, when the issue hits closer to home, fewer Americans are likely to recognize it as a problem. 57% of residents nationwide are more likely to believe a friend or family member’s forgetfulness is a part of the natural aging process while 33% say it’s a serious medical problem. 10% are unsure.
Here, women are somewhat more likely than are men to think a loved one’s memory problems are indicative of a bigger medical condition. 36% of women believe this is the case while 30% of men feel the same.
The Cost of Care
A majority of American residents — 51% — do know someone who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. Of those, 56% say that person is a relative. And, the effect of having a family member diagnosed with the disease goes well beyond the emotional impact.
44% of U.S. residents who have a relative living with Alzheimer’s disease say the cost of caring for this relative has strained their family finances a great deal or a good amount. This includes 23% who say they have experienced a great deal of financial sacrifice, and about one-fifth — 21% — who report they have felt a good amount of financial strain. On the other hand, 23% have felt little financial impact, and 25% say they have felt no economic stress at all. 8% reported they were not directly responsible for their relative’s care.
There is a gender divide. Women are more likely than men to say they have felt a financial burden. A majority — 51% — of women say they experienced an economic impact while 36% of men report the same.
Finding a Cure
Nearly half of Americans — 49% — are optimistic that a cure for Alzheimer’s disease will be found during their lifetime. 40% believe it is likely while 9% say it is very likely. Of those who are pessimistic, 37% think it is not very likely a cure will be discovered in their lifetime, and 14% say it is not likely at all.
Not surprisingly, the youngest Americans are the most positive while the oldest are the least. 56% of residents 18 to 29 years old say it is likely that a cure will be found during their lifetime while 42% of Americans aged 60 or older agree.