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Currently 5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. That number is expected to increase dramatically as Baby-Boomers move into old age.

Although research has not been able to find a cure for Alzheimer’s, what is known is that treatment is most effective when started in the earliest onset of the disease. Time is truly an enemy of Alzheimer’s disease.

Recently, a brief phone survey of 1,776 African American, Hispanic, and white adults was conducted to better understand the beliefs and knowledge of Alzheimer’s. With a better understanding of how people perceive and understand the disease it is hoped that misconceptions can be addressed through educational programs.

Among the 3 races, the level of concern about getting Alzheimer’s disease was about equal.

The 2 groups that felt Alzheimer’s was a normal part of the aging process were African Americans and Hispanics. Because these 2 groups accepted memory loss as normal they were less inclined to seek medical attention at the first signs of cognitive loss. Whites were less hopeful that a cure will be found any time soon and also were less likely to change their diet or lifestyle to avoid developing the disease.

Of the three racial groups surveyed, Hispanics overall scored highest in feeling that they are well-prepared for handling a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s in the family. Overall, only ¼ of all respondents felt prepared for such a diagnosis in the family.