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Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

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Alzheimer’s and Its Impact on Women

Maria Shriver Talks About Her New Report on Alzheimer’s and Caregiving


A: I think I had been researching, studying about Alzheimer's since my dad was diagnosed in 2003. But I did not understand that women were really at the epicenter of it because of looking into it from my father's point of view.

[Then came the HBO documentaries.] More and more women started coming up to me, and saying, "I know you have a dad with Alzheimer's, my mom has Alzheimer's. I'm a caregiver and I'm also working full time. Do you have any ideas? Do you have any ways I can get help?"

So everywhere I went, suddenly someone was caring for an elderly parent. So we focused on Alzheimer's because the caregiving of Alzheimer's is the most time intensive, emotionally intensive and also expensive. ... It's really expensive to have a parent with Alzheimer's. It disrupts your entire family, it changes your life. In the poll, two-thirds of those polled said they had to come Iate to work, change their work schedule, or leave work altogether to care for somebody with Alzheimer's.

Q: You say women are at the epicenter of the Alzheimer's epidemic. Could you talk about that and how it is affecting society?

A: I think it's affecting society in every way. The facts are that women have more Alzheimer's [than men do] and are doing the lion’s share of caregiving. Those are millions and millions of women. Women who have to put food on the table, who have to raise the next generation while taking care of the last generation, [who] are under duress.

Men and women in this country are going to have to care for parents who get Alzheimer's and other diseases. Businesses have to be prepared. Companies that have seen this coming and work with their employees are more successful than those who don't.

In the report, it shows that two-thirds of the people polled said they had not been able to get time off for elder care, that it was easier to get help for child care, that they had to either come in late, change their job, or take a leave altogether.

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