Only 1 in 10 French people know prevention strategies

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  • In France, Alzheimer’s disease is now known to the general public and is increasingly frightening them.
  • But if the French are well acquainted with the main symptoms of this neurodegenerative disease, then 9 out of 10 do not know the means to prevent its development.

Alzheimer’s disease affects nearly 900,000 people in France and is the most common form of age-related dementia. This neurological disease is still well known to the French, which is still incurable. These are the results of IFOP / Medric Alzheimer’s Foundation Done on the occasion of World Alzheimer’s Day Tuesday, September 21st.

Neurodegeneration known to the French

Compared to a similar survey conducted in 1992, the 2021 results clearly confirm the progression of knowledge of the disease and its entrenchment in the national collective imagination. Thus, 97% of respondents had already heard of it (compared to 58% 30 years ago) and 42% spontaneously referred to Alzheimer’s disease (before Parkinson’s disease) as an age-related neurodegenerative disease.

The French also know how to better recognize the symptoms. 88% mentioned memory disorders, 86% difficulties with orientation, 79% language and attention disorders. Only the risks of depressive episodes were well defined, being cited by only 47% of respondents.

scary disease

Alzheimer’s disease is not only better known, it’s also scary. In 2001, cancer was the most feared disease, followed by AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease and myocardial infarction. In 2021, the French reported cancer at the same level but Alzheimer’s disease was significantly more likely to be mentioned (35% of French participants). Conversely, they are less afraid of AIDS (5%).

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This fear of Alzheimer’s is mainly based on the observation that it is an incurable disease: 90% of French people believe it is an incurable disease, and 74% are afraid (including 24% “very afraid”) of arriving one day. A percentage that has jumped in twenty years, as only 42% feared it in 2001.

The means to prevent the disease are still not understood

The French are becoming more familiar with Alzheimer’s disease, but ironically only one in ten know prevention strategies. If regular physical activity, the role of sleep and social life are widely seen as protective factors, the same is not true of diet and especially of a Mediterranean diet.

It should also be noted that sleep and physical activity are still only partially recognized in preventive strategies in general. Less than one in two French people believe that it is necessary to engage in regular physical activity to prevent the occurrence of various diseases.

though, “There are solutions to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. It is now a matter of introducing them and encouraging the French to invest personally in improving their chances of aging in good cognitive health”, recalls Kristin Tabuenka, managing director of the Médéric Alzheimer’s Foundation.

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