That seismic quake felt nationwide recently came out of California and while it was not the earth moving kind it was ground-breaking none the less. Maria Shriver, the First Lady of California who has turned the annual California Women's Conference into a national stage of transformational moments for women within our society and culture, today released the second in a series of landmark reports. This year the report focused on the growing prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and its disproportionate impact on women.
The Shriver Report: A Woman's Nation Takes on Alzheimer's, conducted in collaboration with the Alzheimer's Association, shows that 10 million American women are touched by Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. Of the more than 5 million Americans diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, two-thirds are women. In addition, 6.7 million women represent 60 percent of the family caregivers of those living with the disease. Since women also make up half of all U.S. employees, the impact of Alzheimer's disease on our workplace, our health care system and our family lives is significant and growing.
The Alzheimer's Association estimates that every 70 seconds someone develops this disease. What is perhaps a larger concern is that studies also show that 50 percent of those living with Alzheimer's are undiagnosed.
The toll this disease takes on women cannot go unnoticed. One-third of these female caregivers are caring for an Alzheimer’s loved one 24/7 and almost half provide more than 40 hours of care a week. That means women who are working caregivers, in addition to bringing home the bacon, now come home to another full-time job: caregiver.
Now if you are reading this and still don’t believe that Alzheimer’s may touch your life or family, consider this:
Taking a cue from the state from which The Shriver Report emanates, let's go from gloomy, cloudy news to some "sunny" solutions:
Given the many crucial issues surrounding the physical, mental, emotional, and lifestyle demands associated with caregiving, it’s important for families to be aware of where to go for answers, support, and encouragement.
Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimer's Disease: A Guide for the Home Caregiver
by Peter Rabins, M.D., MPH, and Ann Morrison, RN, Ph.D.