Poll: More than Half of Americans Have Personal Knowledge of Alzheimer's

Mounting Awareness and Concern Fail to Trigger Planning

Oct 15, 2010, 00:01 ET from Abt Associates

BETHESDA, Md., Oct. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- A growing number of Americans report knowing a relative or friend afflicted with Alzheimer's, according to a national poll conducted by the public opinion research firm Abt SRBI.  Yet despite this rise in awareness, often accompanied by significant anxiety about one day getting this fatal brain disease, few Americans are planning for its eventuality.

The poll, conducted in conjunction with the Alzheimer's Association and released as part of California's First Lady Maria Shriver's landmark study, The Shriver Report: A Woman's Nation Takes on Alzheimer's, "is the first to explore Alzheimer's from multiple angles," said Dr. Kelly Daley, Senior Analyst for Abt SRBI and lead for this research effort.  "What is surprising in this survey," she said, "is that despite the personal knowledge of Alzheimer's by 55% of Americans, only 27 percent of Americans are making financial or caregiver plans for the possibility it will affect them."

Daley added that another unexpected finding was that nearly half of all caregivers to Alzheimer's patients feel they had no choice in assuming this responsibility. Yet most state that having their loved ones at home versus in a nursing facility weighed heavily in their decision to shoulder the burden.

As for progress in finding a cure for this disease, which affects more than 5 million Americans, most adults are pessimistic.  In fact, the poll found that 78% of Americans would like the government to invest in research to prevent or cure Alzheimer's while just over half (54%) feel it is the government's responsibility to financially help families care for Alzheimer's patients.

It was no surprise that the survey, which involved interviews with more than 3,400 ethnically diverse adults, 502 of whom were caregivers, found that most caregivers are highly stressed.  Rating their stress at the highest level, they said the pressures of caregiving have had an adverse impact on their finances, social relationships and work obligations.  Men characterized the stress as straining their marriage, while women said it meant less time with their partner or spouse.

Kathleen Flanagan, President and CEO of Abt Associates, said that the Abt SRBI survey "will do much to support the Alzheimer's Association and Maria Shriver in helping Americans better prepare for and cope with the disease.  This research is in keeping with our company's mission to improve people's quality of life."

Abt SRBI is the polling arm of Abt Associates, an employee-owned social policy research and consulting company committed to improving the quality of life and economic wellbeing of people worldwide.  Abt Associates has offices in Bethesda, Cambridge, Durham, Atlanta, and New York, where Abt SRBI is headquartered, and program offices in 40 countries worldwide.  www.abtassociates.com

SOURCE Abt Associates