It seems to be a mixed blessing that the media is paying more attention to Alzheimer’s.
On the one hand, the spotlight on a disease that has long been kept in the shadows is welcomed. But modern journalism’s need for clicks sometimes leads to misleading headlines, which only hurts the awareness movement.
Recently, a study came out which demonstrated in a very small sample of autopsies of 8 people who had been diagnosed with the rare brain disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease related to growth-hormone treatment, 6 of the 8 showed an increase in amyloid plaque that scientists believe is linked to Alzheimer’s.
It is certainly an interesting study, and the results were unexpected, but there are not any solid takeaways until larger studies can be performed. Yet, in the click-crazy world of online journalism, some outlets ran with the headline, “Is Alzheimer’s contagious?”
I’ve read accounts from those with Alzheimer’s who criticize the use of the term “Alzheimer’s sufferer” because they are doing their best to live successfully with Alzheimer’s and sufferer sounds like there is no hope with anyone with the disease.
I might be guilty of using the term “suffering” when describing my Dad’s experience with Alzheimer’s, but that’s because I truly believe he was suffering. I don’t think it should be used as a blanket term, especially for those in the early stages of the disease.
As a journalist, I try to be aware of these considerations, but I encourage everyone to politely correct those who provide misinformation on Alzheimer’s or any other disease.
The old expression of “all publicity is good publicity” may be true for Alzheimer’s, but it is the responsibility of advocates to make sure the coverage is accurate.