Feb. 25, 2016 -- People recognize the seriousness of Alzheimer’s disease, but they aren’t taking steps to learn about their personal chances of getting the disease or to prepare for it financially, according to a new survey.
The WebMD and Shriver Report Snapshot: “Insight Into Alzheimer’s Attitudes and Behaviors,” asked more than 4,200 WebMD readers their beliefs and experiences regarding the disease. (See infographic of key findings here.)
"It's incredibly tough to think about losing your mind or watching a loved one struggle with Alzheimer’s,” says Michael Smith, MD, WebMD’s chief medical editor. “There is great concern about the impact of this disease, but denial, fear or other unknown factors seem to be preventing us from taking the necessary steps to prepare.”
Still, many people say they are taking actions to stay healthy that might benefit their brains as they age.
An estimated 1 in 9 people over 65 (11%) have Alzheimer’s, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. As the population ages, however, those numbers are expected to nearly triple by 2050.
"The first baby boomers are turning 70 this year. The risk for Alzheimer's begins to increase dramatically at the age of 65, and goes up until age 90 or so, maybe even after that," says Keith Fargo, PhD, director of scientific programs and outreach for the Alzheimer’s Association. “We’re facing a wave of dementia coming our way in the coming decade — and it’s starting now, not 30-40 years from now.”
Finances and Prevention
Although the lifetime cost of care for someone with Alzheimer’s is an estimated $174,000, most survey respondents say they aren’t prepared:
- 71% say their family is not financially equipped to deal with the disease
- 66% believe Alzheimer’s could harm their family financially
“It’s really critical for people to plan ahead,” Fargo says. “There are lots of things that people can do now to get ready for possible cognitive decline or dementia, whether that’s due to Alzheimer’s or something else.”