Researchers at the University of Michigan School of Public Health have found that a lot of misconceptions exist about Alzheimer's among people of different races.
From the "Public opinion about Alzheimer's disease among Blacks, Hispanics, and Whites" survey, the scientists also found that a large percentage of people have no knowledge about the treatments available to reduce the disease's symptoms.
There were more similarities in patterns of response among the racial groups than expected, said Cathleen Connell, professor in the U-M School of Public Health and director of the Education and Information Transfer Core of the Michigan Alzheimer's Disease Research Center.
Astonishingly, less than the half of the sample reported that they were aware of the treatments that could address symptoms and improve quality of life. But when it came to concern, not many significant differences were seen among the races.
Conversely, some distinguished differences were discovered among blacks, whites and Hispanics, Connell said. "If family members believe that Alzheimer's disease is the term for normal memory loss associated with aging, they will be less likely to seek diagnosis and treatment in the early phase of the process when more options are available," Connell said.
"To the extent that non-whites are much more likely than whites to normalize symptoms of dementia, we need to do a much better job of tailoring messages in an effort to increase public awareness about the disease," she said.
More than the whites, Blacks and the Hispanics seemed more optimistic about the advancing of the study towards a treatment, as they were more likely to change their lifestyle in order to keep away from Alzheimer's disease.
"Although knowledge about Alzheimer's disease has increased dramatically over the past two decades, misconceptions remain among large segments of the population, Continued efforts are clearly needed to educate the public about the disease" Connell said.
The study will appear in the Journal of Alzheimer Disease and Associated Disorders.