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Public knowledge of Alzheimer's disease

Value of Knowing

General agreement on some symptoms of ALzheimer's disase, disagreement on others

The survey asked about a range of possible symptoms that might be associated with Alzheimer’s and found that there is widespread belief that certain symptoms are characteristic of the disease. Large majorities in each of the countries see each of the following as being a common symptom of Alzheimer’s: confusion and disorientation, wandering and getting lost, difficulty remembering things in their life from the day before, difficulty managing daily tasks, and difficulty managing and paying bills.

Public perceptions of common symptoms

There was less agreement on whether certain other symptoms are characteristic of Alzheimer’s. Opinion is divided between countries on whether each of the following is a common symptom ofAlzheimer’s disease: difficulty remembering things in their life from years before (the proportion saying it is a common symptom ranges from 44% to 76%), anger and violence (35% to 53%), and loss of appetite (21% to 52%). Less than half of people in all five countries believe that hallucinations or hearing voices and problems with pain are common symptoms.

Public perceptions of less common symptoms

Large numbers do not believe Alzheimer's disease is a fatal disease

The public was asked whether Alzheimer’s is a fatal disease. About four in ten believe that Alzheimer’s disease is, with considerable variation between countries (33% in Germany to 61% in the U.S.), while between a third and two-thirds believe it is not (35% in the U.S. to 62% in Germany).

Fatal disease



Last Updated: Wednesday 13 July 2011


  • Acknowledgements

    The Value of Knowing Survey was designed and analysed by the Harvard School of Public Health and Alzheimer Europe, in collaboration with the following national Alzheimer associations: Alzheimer's Association (US), CEAFA (Spain), Deutsche Alzheimer Gesellschaft (Germany), France Alzheimer (France) and the Polish Alzheimer's Association (Poland). The survey was supported by a grant to Alzheimer Europe from Bayer AG. Bayer was not involved in the design of the survey or the analysis of the findings.
  • Deutsche Alzheimer Gesellschaft
  • France Alzheimer
  • Polish Alzheimer's Association
  • Bayer