Survey shows BC residents worried about Alzheimer’s disease

Poll found that 61 per cent of people fear getting the brain degenerative disease.

A new survey says that the majority of British Columbians are concerned about being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

The poll, conducted jointly by Insights West and the Alzheimer Society of B.C., found that 61 per cent of people living here – including Abbotsford residents – are concerned about getting the brain degenerative disease.

And 39 per cent of us know someone with Alzheimer’s.

“Age is the greatest known risk factor and our baby boomers, the largest demographic group in our population, have now started to enter the 65 plus years,” said Jillian Armit, the society’s support and education coordinator for Abbotsford and Chilliwack.

“There is still a lot we don’t know about the causes and we don’t have a cure so it’s not a surprise that Alzheimer’s disease is ranked so high as a health concern.”

According to the study, it is the third most feared disease among B.C. residents after cancer (74 per cent) and heart disease (69 per cent). This finding is particularly alarming, she says, since the prevalence of the disease is not as high in B.C. as cancer, heart disease or even diabetes.

A more encouraging finding from the survey is that 52 per cent of respondents believe there will be a cure found in the next 10 years. In the meantime, says Hildebrand, there needs to be more awareness and education about the disease.

Dementia is more than just memory loss and when intervention comes in the mid to late stages of the disease, “the reality of the impact is often unexpected and incredibly overwhelming as this heartbreaking illness progresses.”

An early diagnosis means earlier access to support and medical treatments to help manage the symptoms of the disease, she adds.

Earlier intervention can also allow families to plan for and manage the challenges on the dementia journey with quality of life as a priority.

Local families can turn to the Society’s local support and education group, which meets monthly. For more information, contact Armit at 604-859-3889 or jarmit@alzheimerbc.org.

“While concern about being diagnosed with the disease is high, there is still more work to be done around the awareness and education about the disease,” she says.

The Charitable Giving study by Insights West found that although the Alzheimer Society of B.C. ranks high in terms of brand awareness among B.C. non-profit organizations, only about 14 per cent of B.C. adults have made a donation to the Society in the past.

The good news?

Nearly double the number of adults who have heard of the organization express a willingness to donate to the cause in the future.

To learn more about the many ways to give to the Alzheimer Society of B.C. go to www.alzheimerbc.org and click on the “Donate” link at the top of the page.