Alzheimer’s disease is the only top ten cause of death that does not have any sort of treatment to slow the progression of the disease. Many individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease face discrimination due to stigma. This stigma can prevent many individuals from obtaining information about the risks of the disease or participating in clinical trials.
A survey focusing on stigma was recently published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. The survey features the responses of 317 individuals based on their thoughts of a description of a man with mild-stage Alzheimer’s disease.
The results show that 73.8% of respondents think that the individual would not be able to remember recent events. 63.4% think that the individual would face employment discrimination. 55.3% think that the individual would be excluded from medical decision-making. While Alzheimer’s affects everyone differently, these are generally symptoms of the later stages of the disease not mild-stage.
There are several large clinical trials that are working towards finding potential therapies by 2025. It is important to reduce stigma associated with Alzheimer’s disease in order for individuals to be willing to participate in these trials.
“The unfortunate stigma associated with Alzheimer’s may prevent people from getting the diagnosis they need or the opportunity for early intervention that could improve their quality of life. We need to reduce the stigma to encourage persons with mild or even no symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease to enroll in prevention trials to find effective treatments. These survey findings could also have implications on the national goal of developing an effective therapy by 2025,” says Maria C. Carrillo, Ph.D., Chief Science Officer, Alzheimer’s Association.
The following tips can help to overcome Alzheimer’s stigma.
- Be open and direct.
Engage others in discussions about Alzheimer’s disease and the need for prevention, better treatment and an eventual cure. If you are living with Alzheimer’s, engage with others like you on our message boards.
- Communicate the facts.
Sharing accurate information is key to dispelling misconceptions about the disease. Whether a pamphlet or link to online content, offer information to help people better understand Alzheimer’s disease. Learn the facts about Alzheimer’s and find an education program near you.
- Seek support and stay connected.
It is important that we stay engaged in meaningful relationships and activities with family and friends. Caregivers or those in the early stages should consider joining a support group. Building a strong network is critical.
Contact your local chapter about an early-stage support group near you.
- Don’t be discouraged.If people think that Alzheimer’s disease is normal aging, see it as an education opportunity. Denial of the disease by others is not a true reflection of those living with the disease. Tips for helping family and friends.
- Be a part of the solution.
As a member of your community, use your voice to help raise awareness, end stigma and advocate for more Alzheimer’s support and research.
Learn how you can take action in the fight against Alzheimer’s.
- Be open and direct.
If you have any questions, call the 24/7 helpline at 1-800-272-3900.
Learn more about the Central and North Florida Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association: