Awareness in NZ

Awareness of dementia in New Zealand

In 2014, Alzheimers NZ conducted a research study to measure the level of awareness and understanding of dementia, and of Alzheimers NZ, amongst the New Zealand public. In 2015, Alzheimers NZ repeated a shortened version of the 2014 benchmark survey.



From the research conducted we can conclude the following:

  • Many New Zealanders are touched by dementia – two-thirds of those surveyed knew or had known someone with dementia.
  • New Zealanders are better informed about dementia than expected, but nearly half (46%) need more information.
  • New Zealanders do fear dementia. More than a third of respondents stated that dementia is one of the things they fear most about getting older. 15 percent said they fear dementia more than any other condition, second only to cancer.
  • There are still some knowledge gaps out there – with over half of New Zealanders incorrectly believing that dementia is not a fatal condition and over a quarter believing it is a normal part of the ageing process.

Changes between 2014 and 2015

Most of the findings from the 2015 survey are consistent with findings from the 2014 benchmark survey. The demographics surveyed have become more knowledgeable:

  • Unprompted knowledge for Maori respondents has improved
  • There is increased awareness that Alzheimer’s is a fatal disease or condition
  • More people are concerned how a person with dementia might act in public than in 2014


 Knowledge of Alzheimer's disease

  • Around half of respondents reported knowing ‘a lot’ or ‘fair amount’ about Alzheimer’s. This increased to 61% when prompted with a brief description.
  • The large majority of respondents could only recall memory loss as a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Views of Alzheimer’s were mostly accurate, with clear majorities disagreeing that it has to run in their family to be at risk and that it is a typical part of ageing.
  • The exception was knowledge around it being a fatal disease - with this statement dividing respondents.

 Personal experience and attitudes

  • Almost two thirds of respondents reported knowing or having known a person with Alzheimer’s; respondents 45 years of age and over were more likely to know someone with the disease.
  • Most respondents indicated an open attitude towards Alzheimer’s with a strong majority disagreeing they would be reluctant to tell others if a close family member was diagnosed and a majority disagreeing they would be worried about being out in public with someone suffering from the disease.
  • There is a consensus that it would be better to care for someone that had Alzheimer’s, rather than be diagnosed with it.
  • When compared to cancer, three times more respondents were concerned about cancer than Alzheimer’s, though a notable proportion (a third) were concerned with both equally and around a quarter with neither.