Study Finds Many Americans in the Dark About Dementia And Alzheimer’s Disease, Uncovers How Pandemic Is Affecting Brain Health
MDVIP/Ipsos Survey Shows Nearly Half of Americans Fail ‘Brain Health IQ’ Quiz
BOCA RATON, Fla. – September 22, 2020 — A nationwide study from MDVIP and Ipsos, released today during World Alzheimer’s Month, reveals that many Americans are largely misinformed when it comes to understanding dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, with nearly half failing a “Brain Health IQ” quiz. The survey also sheds light on how the COVID-19 pandemic is taking a toll on the emotional well-being and brain health of Americans. Roughly two out of three adults report feelings of depression or anxiety during the pandemic, and two out of five have experienced “brain fog” characterized by forgetfulness or memory loss.
Furthermore, the MDVIP/Ipsos research finds that two out of three Americans worry about cognitive decline, but most aren’t engaging with their doctor to learn brain health facts or their own risk. A staggering 65 percent of Americans ages 55+ have never had a cognitive screening test, even though baseline and regular assessments are key to early detection, diagnosis and treatment of brain disease.
“Alzheimer’s is one of the leading causes of death and declining health in the U.S., yet our data shows that the disease is still widely misunderstood,” said Dr. Andrea Klemes, MDVIP Chief Medical Officer. “As the baby boomer generation ages, the number of Americans diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is expected to skyrocket, underscoring the need to improve brain health literacy among physicians and patients. While there is currently no proven treatment to prevent Alzheimer’s, there are actions people can take to help lower their risk of cognitive decline, starting with everyday lifestyle changes in diet, exercise, sleep and stress management.”
Americans Puzzled About Brain Health
A full 80 percent of Americans say they want to reduce their risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s, but the Brain Health IQ results indicate that most aren’t aware of the risk factors beyond age and genetics. The study found that:
- 74 percent don’t know that hearing loss is damaging to the brain.
- 72 percent don’t know that diabetes is a major risk factor for dementia.
- 64 percent don’t know lack of sleep can reduce the size of the brain.
- 50 percent don’t know about the relationship between emotional well-being and brain health.
The survey also demonstrates the need for greater awareness about how to protect the brain, with 70 percent of Americans admitting they aren’t knowledgeable about ways to prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
COVID-19's Impact on the Brain
The ongoing pandemic has taken an emotional toll on Americans, particularly those living with cognitive decline and disease.
- More than half of all adults report changes in sleep (58 percent), moodiness (57 percent) and withdrawal from loved ones (51 percent) – but only 8 percent have sought professional help.
- Among those with a relative/friend suffering from cognitive impairment, three out of five say that their loved one has experienced difficulty coping with less in-person contact (67 percent), cognitive decline (63 percent) and increased depression/anxiety (62 percent).
The ‘Primary’ Way to a Healthier Brain
Many Americans are not engaging with their primary care doctor to learn the risk factors for dementia – such as depression and hearing loss – or to get properly screened and coached on ways to reduce their personal risk.
- 77 percent haven’t been coached by their doctor on lifestyle habits that support brain health.
- 51 percent have never been screened for depression.
- 44 percent have never had a neurological exam.
- 32 percent have never had their hearing checked.
“We don’t yet know the long-lasting consequences that the pandemic will have on the brain, and we hope that research such as ours will continue to shine a light on this very serious health issue,” added Dr. Klemes. “In the MDVIP network, physicians provide a comprehensive yearly health assessment that includes advanced diagnostic tests and screenings to give a more complete view of the patient’s overall health. Brain health checks, just like testing for high cholesterol or diabetes, should be a regular part of preventive care, and partnering with a primary care doctor is an important first step.”
About the MDVIP/Ipsos Survey
These are the findings from an Ipsos poll on behalf of MDVIP. For this survey, a sample of roughly 1,217 adults ages 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii were interviewed online, in English. Ipsos and MDVIP issued a second poll to understand the effect of the pandemic on brain health, which included a sample of 1,005 adults ages 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii who were interviewed online, in English. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. The first poll has a credibility interval of ±3.2 percentage points for all respondents and the second poll has a credibility interval of ±3.5 percentage points.
Based in Boca Raton, Florida, MDVIP leads the market in membership-based healthcare that goes far beyond concierge medicine services. With a national network of over 1,000 primary care physicians serving more than 340,000 patients, MDVIP is at the forefront of consumer-directed care. MDVIP-affiliated physicians limit the size of their practices, which affords them the time needed to provide patients with more individualized service and attention, including an annual, comprehensive preventive care program and customized wellness plan. Published research shows that the MDVIP primary care model identifies more patients at risk for cardiovascular disease, delivers more preventive health services, and saves the healthcare system millions of dollars through reduced hospitalizations and readmissions. In response to the growing consumer demand for a more personalized healthcare experience, hospital systems are incorporating the MDVIP model into their primary care offering. For more information, visit www.mdvip.com. Follow MDVIP on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.