Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

Font Size

Americans Worry About Getting Alzheimer's

Survey Reveals Fears About Alzheimer’s, Stroke, Heart Disease, and Other Diseases
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Feb. 23, 2011 -- American adults fear getting Alzheimer’s disease almost as much as they do getting cancer, a new survey shows.

A survey of 1,007 adults by Harris Interactive for the MetLife Foundation finds that 41% of people fear cancer most, closely followed by Alzheimer’s disease at 31%.

The report says 8% fear stroke the most, 8% heart disease the most, and 6% most fear diabetes.

Currently, more than 5 million people have Alzheimer’s, and that number is expected to mushroom in coming years with the aging of the baby boom generation.

Though a large number of people fear getting Alzheimer’s, 62% of those surveyed say they know little or nothing about it, which may explain why only 18% of adults have developed a plan for care, should they get the disease.

Changing Attitudes About Alzheimer’s

The survey shows that since 2006, the percentage of people who fear getting Alzheimer’s has increased more than other diseases.

For example, in 2006, 38% of people most feared getting cancer; that went up to 41% in 2010.

Only 20% of people surveyed in 2006 said they most feared getting Alzheimer’s, but that jumped to 31% in 2010.

The proportions of people fearing diabetes, stroke, and heart disease the most fell. In 2006, 9% feared diabetes compared to 6% in 2010; 13% were afraid of having a stroke in 2006 vs. 8% in 2010.

For heart disease, 14% feared developing that condition in 2006, but that dropped almost in half to 8% in 2010.

Understanding Alzheimer’s

In the 2010 survey, 57% say they know a little about Alzheimer’s and 5% nothing at all; 38% said they were quite familiar with it.

In 2006, 67% said they knew a little about Alzheimer’s, 26% a lot, and 7% nothing at all.

Though more people fear Alzheimer’s disease most than in the past, only 9% in 2010 indicated they were extremely concerned about having to take care of a loved one with the illness, compared to 5% in 2006.

In the 2010 survey, 34% said they weren’t concerned at all about having to care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, compared to 36% four years earlier.

The survey also found that:

  • 44% of adults in the U.S. have a family member or friend with Alzheimer’s, up from 35% in 2006.
  • Despite the increase in fear of Alzheimer’s, only 18% of adults have made plans for the possibility of getting the disease, an increase from 12% in 2007.

Today on WebMD

Remember your finger
When it’s more than just forgetfulness.
senior man with serious expression
Which kinds are treatable?
senior man
Common symptoms to look for.
mri scan of human brain
Can drinking red wine reverse the disease?
eating blueberries
Colored mri of brain
Close up of elderly couple holding hands
mature woman
Woman comforting ailing mother
Senior woman with serious expression