A study by the MetLife Foundation found that Americans fear getting Alzheimer's disease more than heart disease, stroke, or diabetes. Alzheimer's ranks second in the minds of American's only to cancer.
The Findings of the Study included the following:
- Americans fear Alzheimer’s disease.
- Americans know little about Alzheimer’s.
- One-third of Americans say they have direct experience with Alzheimer’s disease.
- Most Americans are concerned that they will be responsible at some point for someone with Alzheimer’s disease.
- Most Americans recognize the need to create a plan to address the possibility of Alzheimer’s disease, but very few have taken steps to do so.
Americans fear Alzheimer’s and the impact that it could have on their lives in the coming years. And although they may recognize the need to look toward the future, the majority hasn’t started making plans.
The downside of living longer has a high price: Nearly 50 percent of those who are 85 or older are affected, and the rate of Alzheimer’s increases exponentially every five years past the age of 65. With the aging of America’s population these numbers are sure to become even more dramatic in the future, making it imperative that individuals and institutions plan for the future.
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The growing number of people with Alzheimer’s will have an impact on every part of society. The vast majority of people know that this disease may someday affect them, either directly or as a caregiver. In addition, many already know a family member or friend who has Alzheimer’s. They strongly support the concept of planning now to cope with the life-changing impact of the
disease – at least in theory.
Despite widespread agreement, few have taken steps to prepare for the possibility of developing Alzheimer’s. Only a few have a solid understanding of the disease. The overwhelming majority has done nothing to plan.
The survey reveals a mismatch between fear of Alzheimer’s and acting on that fear to prepare for the future. The findings from this survey suggest that there is an opportunity to build awareness and help bridge the gaps that were identified in knowledge and behavior. Americans should learn all they can about the disease that will touch so many of us and plan for the future.
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Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room