New survey shows the fear of dementia leads to misconceptions about the disease

Simple Health

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The stigma tied to dementia is keeping people from fully understanding the disease, according to new research from The Global Council on Brain Health and the AARP. 

The survey of 3,022 adults age 40 and older found confusion over dementia, the groups said.

“Our research showed about 50% of people think they are going to get dementia, and more than 60% think cognitive decline is inevitable,” said Sarah Lenz Lock, the executive director of the Global Council on Brain Health, “in fact, it’s much closer to only about 11% of people 65 and older will ever have dementia.” 

Researchers hope the survey will encourage more people to talk to their doctor about the disease and learn more about dementia based on facts, not fear. 

“Age does affect the risk, the older you are the more likely you are to have dementia, but even up until the age 85, it’s only 30-35%.”     

The AARP said there’s a “serious stigma around the dementia diagnosis among adults 40 and older and their healthcare providers,” and how those diagnosed with the disease are treated by society. And while dementia can be treated if diagnosed early, the majority of adults don’t want the exam, the group’s survey found.

Other key findings of the survey were:

  • African American/Black adults and adults aged 70 and older perceive a lower level of stigma compared to white and Hispanic/Latino adults and younger adults.
  • Surprisingly, healthcare providers are more reluctant to share a potential dementia diagnosis with their patients than their patients are to receive the diagnosis.  
  • Younger adults consistently perceive a higher degree of dementia stigma than older adults.
  • Half of adults believe it is likely they will get dementia – far more than actually will ever develop it, and a majority think they’ll experience cognitive decline as they age.
  • Risks for cognitive decline are much lower than most adults think, and there many things you can do now to lower those risks as you age.

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