Welcome to A Woman’s Nation. Women are half the work force, raise our children and care for our elderly. Now there’s a new pressure on this Woman’s Nation: Alzheimer’s disease. Maria Shriver and the Alzheimer’s Association—the leader in Alzheimer’s care, support and research—released The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Takes on Alzheimer’s on Oct. 14 to highlight the epidemic’s effect on women as caregivers, advocates and people living with this disease.
The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Takes on Alzheimer’s demonstrates that women are at the epicenter of the Alzheimer’s epidemic. According to the Alzheimer’s Association Women and Alzheimer’s Poll unveiled in the report, women are almost two-thirds of all Americans with Alzheimer’s and comprise 60 percent of the unpaid caregivers for family members and friends with Alzheimer’s. That means there are 10 million women who either have Alzheimer’s or are caring for someone with the disease. The toll Alzheimer’s has on individuals and caregivers is further compounded by the financial burden felt by families and the U.S. government.
The economic impact of Alzheimer’s disease—on government, families and business—totals about $300 billion per year in the United States. The cost of caring for a single person with Alzheimer’s is a whopping $56,800 a year, the bulk of it borne by each family. And all of these numbers are about to explode. With the baby boomers entering their mid-60s, an Alzheimer’s tsunami is about to hit, with the number of people with the disease expected to triple to 16 million by 2050.
A Woman’s Nation Takes on Alzheimer’s is a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary anthology of every facet of Alzheimer’s disease—medical, sociological, political and economic. The academic core of the report is composed of expert reviews of issues and trends, with analysis backed by the nationwide Alzheimer’s Association Women and Alzheimer’s Poll of 3,118 adults, including more than 500 Alzheimer’s caregivers.
But there’s more to Alzheimer’s than numbers. This report includes original photography by award-winning photojournalist Barbara Kinney and a kaleidoscope of personal essays. Contributors include Barbra Streisand, Terrell Owens, Soleil Moon Frye, ABC News “Nightline” anchor Terry Moran, CBS News correspondent Barry Petersen, former First Lady Laura Bush, President Ronald Reagan’s daughter Patti Davis, Alzheimer’s Study Group chairs Newt Gingrich and former Sen. Bob Kerrey, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Vice President Joe Biden. In addition, extraordinarily honest and moving essays by a diverse group of Americans—including teenage caregivers and women who are living with the disease today— further illustrate the toll Alzheimer’s is taking on the American landscape.
As the country climbs out of a deep recession, A Woman’s Nation Takes on Alzheimer’s examines the current and projected cost of Alzheimer’s to the nation and individual families. With 78 million baby boomers now moving into their later years, the cost of Alzheimer’s to American society is expected to be $20 trillion between now and the year 2050.
Unpaid family caregivers are on the frontlines of the battle against Alzheimer’s. Over 11.2 million Americans provide billions of hours of unpaid care to people with Alzheimer’s and other dementia. More often than not, women report stepping up to become the caregiver because no one else in their family will do it, and 40 percent of them say they had no choice. One-third of female Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers are part of the Sandwich Generation, with children or grandchildren under the age of 18 living in their homes; as a result, women face a double burden. Caregivers’ own heath care costs an additional $4 billion a year due to the emotional and physical stress and strain of caregiving.
Caregiving at home almost always affects work and other responsibilities, and A Woman’s Nation Takes on Alzheimer’s finds that working women feel they get less support for elder care than they do for child care. Almost half of women caregivers report they have tried to get time off from work for their caregiving duties, but couldn’t get it.
This is the second in a series of Shriver Reports examining transformational moments in American culture and society. Last year, Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress published The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything, a landmark study examining how American families live and work today, now that women are half of all the country’s primary and co-breadwinners. The report launched a national conversation about the far-reaching consequences of women’s shifting roles in society that continues today.
We Didn’t Know Then What We Know Now
ABC News devoted a week of programming to its unique combination of news-breaking coverage and personal storytelling. More than 20 million viewers watched Shriver Report specials on the ABC News broadcasts “World News with Diane Sawyer,” “Good Morning America,” “This Week with Christiane Amanpour,” and “Nightline.”
TIME Magazine committed its October 14, 2010 issue to Alzheimer’s in coordination with The Shriver Report drawing heavily on the groundbreaking national poll commissioned by the Report.
Prompted legislative action, including Congressional testimony from Maria Shriver, culminating in the passage of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA) in 2011, the biggest legislative victory for the cause in years.
Triggered a 244% increase in people submitting new profiles for “Alzheimer’s Association TrialMatch”, a service connecting people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers, families, and physicians to clinical trials.
Reissued in a paperback version by Simon & Schuster due to public demand.
Madeleine K. Albright
Former U.S. Secretary of State
“The Shriver report shines a bright light on the deepening and saddening crisis created by Alzheimer’s. The report is shocking, but ultimately hopeful, because no one can review its findings without being inspired to do more to fight and defeat this disease.”
“The Shriver Report shows us that millions of American women desperately need professional help caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. It’s a wake up call: America must ensure that hardworking women and men like ‘Doris T.’ who provide essential homecare services to our elders are earning fair wages and advancing their skills to provide the highest quality care.”
Bill Frist, M.D.
Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader
“With the advent of the baby boomer generation reaching 65 or older, the time to address the growing epidemic of Alzheimer’s disease is now. Increased research and economic strategy for Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers will be crucial to manage this crisis at the personal and national levels”
Senator Barbara A. Mikulski
D – Maryland
“It is upsetting, but not surprising, that women are disproportionately affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Women are battling this disease and often find themselves as caregivers for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease – bearing the financial, emotional and physical toll. I applaud the efforts of scientists who are making strides toward quicker, more accurate diagnoses and prevention. There is hope on the horizon, but we cannot rest. We must do all we can to support caregivers, and continue to work together until we find a cure.”
Dr. Christiane Northrup
Board-certified ob/gyn, bestselling author
“The new Shriver Report, on the enormity of Alzheimer’s care, points out the huge burden placed primarily on women. A burden which is unsustainable, not only for the woman herself, but for our society in general.”
Congresswoman Maxine Waters
“I congratulate the Alzheimer’s Association for producing a groundbreaking new report on women and Alzheimer’s disease,” said Congresswoman Waters. “This report shows that Alzheimer’s is taking a tremendous toll not only on women who suffer from the disease but also on women who provide care to suffering family members.”
Advisory Network members are national thought leaders who contribute to all aspects of our Special Reports based on their years of unique experience and expertise, helping to make them award-winning, ground-breaking, and solutions-oriented examinations of the status of the American women at transformational moments in history. Each member’s community of influence helps amplify our discussion, expanding The Shriver Report network’s reach from coast-to-coast, from University classrooms to the halls of Congress, from the White House to community-based organizations, foundations, businesses, government leaders, and families. As a member of the Advisory Network, participants are asked to involve their affiliated organizations in our research and content development, offer substantive guidance on issues, messaging, and strategies, and to help identify specific solutions that can address the needs of women and families today.
Madeleine K. Albright
Former Secretary of State
Chair of Albright Stonebridge Group
Chair, Change to Win
Secretary-Treasurer, Service Employees International Union
Environmental justice advocate and economic consultant
Founder, Sustainable South Bronx
Sister Joan Chittister
OSB & Author, The Gift of Years
Co-chair of the Global Peace Initiative of Women
Chairman and CEO, Cisco, Inc.
President and Co-founder, Polaris Project
Playwright, feminist and anti-violence activist
Writer and producer, The Vagina Monologues
Navy Admiral (Ret.)
Former CEO, American Red Cross
Former CEO, Girl Scouts of the USA
Senator William H. Frist, M.D.
Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader
Chairman, Hope Through Healing Hands
Former Chair, Obama for America Women’s Policy Committee
Former Chair, Illinois Commission on the Status of Women
Daniel Goleman, Ph.D.
Author of Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships
Former Chairman & CEO, Playboy Enterprises
Co-Founder, The Committee of 200
board member, Springboard Enterprises
President and CEO, CA Community Foundation
Director of Global Philanthropy, Hewlett-Packard Company
Founder and President/CEO, Twiga Foundation, Inc.
Billie Jean King
Founder, Women’s Tennis Association, Women’s Sports Foundation, and World Team Tennis
CEO and Founder, Teach For America
Senior advisor and former President, National Partnership for Women and Families
Publisher and CEO, La Opiniín
President, Small Business Association
Former US Ambassador at Large on Modern Day Slavery
CEO, The Paley Center for Media
President and CEO, National Council of La Raza
Dr. Christiane Northrup
Pioneer in Women’s Health and Wellness
Author, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, The Wisdom of Menopause, and Mother-Daughter Wisdom
Internationally acclaimed personal finance expert; Host of The Suze Orman Show
Former Secretary of State
Cheryl Saban, Ph.D.
Author and Founder, The Women’s Self Worth Foundation
President, Brown University
Sukhinder Singh Cassidy
CEO-in-residence, Accel Partners
Co-founder and President, Six Apart
President and CEO, Lifetime Networks