USAgainstAlzheimer’s Releases New Poll Showing Americans Uninformed About Risk

new poll released today by UsAgainstAlzheimer’s A-LIST® shows people are woefully uninformed about Alzheimer’s and brain health in general, despite a desire to learn more. Specifically:

  • 63% get their Alzheimer’s brain health information from internet searches
  • 47% get information from health care providers
  • 92% are speaking to their doctor after an Alzheimer’s or related dementia diagnosis; of those, only 26% received information to take home

Many Americans clearly take brain health seriously. In fact, 81% say they are doing things in their day-to-day life to take care of brain health. But more than a quarter (28%) of respondents are unsure what works and what is a gimmick.This data makes clear that the National Alzheimer’s Plan is lacking when it comes to efforts to educate people nationwide on risk reduction and early intervention, and points to a greater need for clear information and resources grounded in demonstrated science.

“The public is hungry to be educated in this area, but are struggling to find resources and information that could lead to better long-term brain health and possibly Alzheimer’s prevention,” said Kelly O’Brien, Executive Director of UsAgainstAlzheimer’s Brain Health Partnership. “This must change. Doctors, nurses and other providers must regularly discuss brain health with patients, and a national goal to prevent Alzheimer’s must be set.”

The survey was taken by more than 1,400 participants nationwide. Notably, people who are interested in their brain health are engaging in multiple activities to better understand and manage it. However, many struggle to find information and resources on how to reduce their risk for dementia or learn more about brain health, showing that additional resources need to be shared in these areas. A national goal to prevent Alzheimer’s would provide additional resources for people to learn about dementia, Alzheimer’s or brain health.

The federal Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care, and Services recently recommended that the National Alzheimer’s Plan be updated to include a focus on risk reduction and accelerate efforts to reduce risk and intervene early in clinical care. Together with the Alzheimer’s Association and nearly 200 other organizations and experts, UsAgainstAlzheimer’s is calling on U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to adopt the Council’s recommendation.

Research has shown there are steps people can take to improve their brain health and reduce their risk of dementia, like regular physical activity, adequate sleep, social engagement, maintaining a healthy lifestyle by avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol use, and maintaining healthy blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.

More than half of respondents (57.2%) feel too tired/overwhelmed or busy to be proactive about their brain health. “Many people think that time is an obstacle, but the good news is that better brain health does not require adding something to your day, like going to a gym does,” said Sandra Bond Chapman, PhD, Distinguished Professor and Chief Director at the Center for BrainHealth® at the University of Texas at Dallas. “It is about being more strategic with your brain’s energy with your everyday mental tasks and stopping habits that are toxic to it. The astounding truth is that brain healthy practices lead to greater efficiency and productivity, which in turn gives you time back in your day and improves your quality of life.”

“I’m excited to see that the majority of individuals are talking with their health care providers about brain health,” said Fayron Epps, PhD, RN, Assistant Professor of Nursing, Emory University. “I challenge all health care providers to take the conversations a step further by making sure brain health becomes a standard topic for education each time they interact with their patients.”

Survey Methodology: The survey, taken September 17-27, 2021, by the UsAgainstAlzheimer’s A-LIST® and partners, had 1,435 responses overall from people living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia (n=93), current and former caregivers (n=217/262), people with a significant likelihood of developing the disease (n=458), and those interested in brain health (n=405). This research is overseen by an Institutional Review Board (IRB.)

The UsAgainstAlzheimer’s A-LIST Brain Health survey was made possible in part by the generous support of Shawn Taylor and KPB Corporation; and with research support from Fayron Epps, PhD, RN, Assistant Professor of Nursing, Emory University; and the Center for BrainHealth® at the University of Texas at Dallas.