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Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Thesis: Campus only access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Jane Berry


There are currently an estimated 5.2 million Americans who have Alzheimer’s disease (AD), with this number standing to increase 40% by 2025 (Alzheimer’s Association, 2013). Given the incurable nature of this disease, early diagnosis and clinical intervention are imperative for moderating the cognitive and behavioral decline of the individual as well as lessening the demands placed on the care giver (Prince, Bryce & Ferri, 2011). Unlike the other leading causes of death (i.e., heart disease, stroke, HIV), with generally well-understood symptomatology, some of the cognitive manifestations of AD, at least early in the disease, are frequently assumed to be characteristic of normal, and not pathological, aging. Werner (2004) found that participants believed memory and cognitive impairments were inevitable with increased age, and that this misconception reduced their use of preventative medical services. Research on what people know about the differences between healthy and pathological aging has produced inconsistent and inconclusive results, with research on the perceptions of competence of healthy older adults and older adults with AD even scarcer. Such efforts to better understand people’s perceptions and knowledge of healthy aging and AD will shed light on a rather unfamiliar domain, and have the potential to increase help seeking behavior (Werner, 2003).