Your Insights on Alzheimer’s Disease in BC

Alzheimer’s disease affects a large number of British Columbian adults: 39% know someone with the disease, and the majority (61%) are concerned about getting Alzheimer’s in the future. There is optimism though, as 52% expect there will be a cure in the next ten years.

Vancouver, BC — An online survey conducted by Insights West of 513 British Columbians, released to coincide with Alzheimer Awareness Month in January, finds the majority of adults (61%) are concerned about being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, even though only 39% have been directly impacted by the disease. But there is also optimism, as the majority (52%) believe there will be a cure found in the next ten years.

Alzheimer’s disease is the third most-feared disease among British Columbians. Cancer concerns are the highest, with 74% of British Columbians concerned about contracting cancer (39% are very concerned). Slightly fewer are concerned about being diagnosed with heart disease (69% concerned, 31% very concerned), and a small majority are concerned about diabetes (57%, 25% very concerned). Concerns over contracting Alzheimer’s disease rank just below cancer and heart disease, with 61% who are concerned, including 27% who are very concerned. Concern is high, despite the fact that prevalence of Alzheimer’s is much lower than cancer, heart disease, or diabetes. Concerns about all four diseases are high across all age categories, including younger British Columbians.

Seventy thousand British Columbians are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia and 15,000 more are diagnosed with the disease each year. While a good portion (39%) of British Columbians know family or friends who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, they are significantly more likely to know someone diagnosed with cancer (85%), diabetes (70%) or heart disease (64%) – each disease affecting the lives of a majority of British Columbians.

Interestingly, women are significantly more likely to be aware of friends or family who have suffered or are currently suffering from one of these diseases, possibly because they are more likely to share concerns or information about health issues (cancer: 88% of women know someone, compared to 81% of men; diabetes: 75%/63%; heart disease: 69%/58%; and Alzheimer’s: 45%/31%). While all ages are equally likely to have a family or friend suffering from cancer or diabetes, the likelihood of knowing someone with Alzheimer’s disease or heart disease significantly increases with age (76% of those 55 years or older know someone with heart disease, and 48% know someone with Alzheimer’s, compared to 63%/37% of 35 to 54 year olds, and 44%/24% of 18 to 34 year olds).

Given the widespread effect of the disease among British Columbians, it is not surprising that a high 83% are aware of the Alzheimer Society of BC. Insights West tracked awareness and donation behaviour towards 59 branded charities in BC in their Charitable Giving Insights study, and found that awareness of the Alzheimer Society of B.C. ranked in the top 30% of brands in terms of brand awareness. Even though brand awareness is significant, only about 14% of BC adults have made a donation to the Society in the past. Very encouraging to the society is the fact that nearly double (27%) the number of adults who have heard of the organization express a willingness to donate to them in the future.

Steve Mossop, President of Insights West, says “The Alzheimer Society of B.C. was unique in our study of 59 charities in BC in that they were one of the top in terms of the percentage of BC adults who said they would be willing to donate in the future relative to the percentage who have given in the past. This suggests the public is very open to hearing more about the Alzheimer Society of B.C., and are willing to open their wallets when they are asked.”

Jean Black, CEO at Alzheimer Society of B.C. says “Being educated about the disease can lead to earlier diagnosis, earlier intervention to manage the challenges on the dementia journey and to plan in advance with quality of life as a priority.” She adds, “We have more work to do to educate the public and fund research to find causes and the cure; it’s our mission and our aim is to deliver on that promise of providing help for today and hope for tomorrow.”

Despite high levels of concern about contracting Alzheimer’s disease, many British Columbians are cautiously optimistic about finding a cure for the disease. Half (52%) believe it is likely that a cure for Alzheimer’s will be developed in the next ten years, while only one in ten (12%) believe it is not at all likely.

Results are based on an online study conducted in October 2012 among 513 British Columbians aged 18+ who are Your Insights panel members. Yourinsights.ca is Insights West’s in-house access panel offering on-demand samples for both clients and research suppliers looking for Western Canadian populations. The data has been statistically weighted according to British Columbia Census figures for age, gender and region. Results have a +/- 4.33% margin of error. To view the detailed data tabulations, click here.

For more information on this study or any other inquiries on our Your Insights panel, contact:

Steve Mossop
President, Insights West
778-891-4762
stevemossop@insightswest.com