NEW YORK (March 21, 2016) —The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA), a leading national nonprofit organization dedicated to providing optimal care and services for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their families, recently commissioned Harris Poll to conduct an online survey, which presents findings on views on various issues related to Alzheimer’s, including memory, cognitive screening, and brain health. The research has provided AFA valuable insight as to further AFA’s mission of improving the quality of life for individuals with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.
“Early detection of memory problems can steer individuals on the right path to treatment,” said Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., AFA’s President and CEO. “It is never too soon to go for a memory screening. Our findings from the survey indicate that most people are unaware of the initiatives that are out there to improve brain health and reduce the likelihood of memory loss. By completing this survey, it better prepares our organization moving forward. It is important to dispel common misconceptions about memory loss and screening, and make people more aware of symptoms and preventative treatments.”
Most adults believe they are at least in good health (82%) and feel that they do what they can to promote a healthy lifestyle (78%). Many adults are aware that there are activities they can participate in to promote brain health, but a smaller number of adults are participating in those activities. Approximately eight in 10 of the adults are cognizant that regular exercise (81%), crossword puzzles, or word searches (80%), and maintaining a healthy diet (79%) can promote brain health, but just over half actually perform these activities (57%, 53%, and 55%, respectively).
Another finding indicates that 37% of adults are at least somewhat concerned with being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, however, much less so than other health conditions like cancer (55%), hypertension (51%), and cardiovascular disease (43%).
These results enable AFA to gauge the public’s opinions on various issues related to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and provides the Foundation a better idea of what improvements can be made.
AFA stresses the importance of individuals being more proactive in taking care of themselves, physically and cognitively, through education, diet, and physical and cognitive exercises. More than 1,000 U.S. adults were surveyed, aged 40 and older. The general synopsis of the poll concludes that more than nine out of 10 adults feel that they would not be themselves without their memory (91%), more than half say that memory loss is their greatest fear (53%), yet a large majority of adults have never had a memory screening (81%).
One of AFA’s biggest initiatives is the National Memory Screening Program. An entire month (November) is dedicated to National Screening Awareness Month. It is very important to get screened, as AFA has screened hundreds of thousands of individuals nationwide. The benefits are early detection, proper intervention, and successful aging. Nearly nine in 10 adults agree that memory screenings can play an important part of preventative healthcare (89%) about three in four would want to know if they were at risk of developing Alzheimer’s (74%), and the majority of adults feel that the screenings may uncover other health issues (89%).
The study also reveals that most adults wish they knew more about memory loss (69%), but many do not know where to find information about memory loss (30%). Only small minorities realize that adults should get regular screenings at age 40 (15%), or correctly indicate that the statement, “memory screenings take at least 30 minutes” is false (4%). Regular memory screenings are covered by Medicare. A large majority of adults recognize that Alzheimer’s (90%), dementia (85%), or aging (83%) are possible causes of memory problems. Far fewer recognize that other causes include depression (40%), vitamin deficiency (39%), or thyroid disease (14%).
Lack of awareness appears to be one of the biggest barriers to getting a memory screening. Knowledge is key. The realities of memory screening are that they are non-invasive, don’t take much time, it’s covered by Medicare, and it can detect cognitive problems long before clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America is a non-profit founded to fill the gap that existed on a national level assuring quality of care and excellence in service to individuals with Alzheimer's disease and related illnesses, and to their caregivers and families. AFA unites more than 2,400 member organizations from coast-to-coast that are dedicated to meeting the educational, social, emotional and practical needs of individuals with Alzheimer's disease and their families. Under AFA's umbrella, these organizations collaborate on education, resources, best practices and advocacy —all resulting in better care for people affected by the disease. AFA’s services include a national, toll-free helpline staffed by licensed social workers, educational materials, professional training, community outreach, free quarterly caregiver magazine, research funding, public advocacy and programmatic services. For more information about AFA, call toll-free 866-232-8484, visit www.alzfdn.org, follow us on Twitter, or connect with us on Facebook.
This survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America between the 24th and 30th of September, 2015, among 1,012 U.S. adults, aged 40+. Data are weighted where necessary by age, gender, ethnicity, region, education, income, and propensity to be online to bring them in line with their actual proportions in the population.