NEW POLL: Majority of Americans Have Astounding Knowledge Gap About Alzheimer’s and Caregiving
New Survey By Maria Shriver’s Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement and Bipartisan Policy Center Finds Most Americans Don’t Know What the Disease Entails, Who It Impacts, or How to Prepare for Long-Term Caregiving
Perhaps Most Startling Is the Fact That Nearly Half of Americans Aren’t Concerned About Getting Alzheimer’s, With Many Thinking They Don’t Have to Worry Because It Doesn’t Run In Their Families
Most Women, In Fact, Are Unaware of Their Increased Risk for Alzheimer’s and Have No Idea That Symptoms Develop 20-30 Years Before Diagnosis
African Americans Report Being the Least Concerned with Alzheimer’s, Despite Statistics Showing They Are Twice as Likely to Get It
The Vast Majority of Americans Also Want a Family Member to Be Their Caregiver, But More Than Half Haven’t Even Talked to Their Families About It and Have No Idea What It Will Cost or Involve
New York City, November 1, 2017 – The majority of Americans, particularly women, are dramatically uninformed about their vulnerability to Alzheimer’s disease and don’t realize that there are steps they could be taking today to protect their brain health, and are unprepared for the long-term care needs associated with the disease. Many, in fact, incorrectly believe that they don’t have to worry about getting Alzheimer’s if the disease doesn’t run in their families. These are the sobering findings from a new poll released by Maria Shriver’s Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement and the Bipartisan Policy Center. Shriver previewed the results today at Hearst Tower in New York City at her first-ever summit on women’s brain health, co-sponsored by the Lifetime television network.
Among the findings:
- Only 22 percent of all Americans (27 percent of women) know that Alzheimer’s disproportionally affects women.
- Seventy-one percent of American women—both millennial and non-millennial women—believe you don’t begin to develop any symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease until you are 60 or older.
- Forty-four percent of all Americans, and 42 percent of women, say they aren’t that worried, or aren’t worried at all, about getting Alzheimer’s disease. The majority of these individuals incorrectly believe that they don’t have to worry because the disease doesn’t run in their family, despite research that proves your genes are not your destiny.
- Sixty-six percent of Americans (64 percent of women) want a family member to be their primary caregiver. Yet only 1 in 4 seniors have had the conversation with their children, and only 1 in 3 millennials have talked with their parents about the issue.
- Women make up two-thirds of the caregivers in America. Yet, 54 percent of American women report that they are ill-prepared to take care of their parents. 50% of millennial women report feeling that way.
- Fifty-four percent of Americans (53 percent of women) say long-term care will cost $25,000 or less per year, even though it’s been shown to cost nearly double that amount. Nearly half of millennials believe it will cost less than $18,000 per year.
When it comes to the state of their health today, millennial women, in particular, are most likely to report high stress than any other age group. 43 percent of women 18-34 report suffering from high stress; 31 percent report being overweight; and 44 percent report experiencing mental health issues like depression and anxiety.
Taking into account these known facts, 68 percent of American women, 64 percent among millennials, say they would be likely to make changes to their lives if they thought there was something they could do to reduce their risk for cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, the more people are knowledgeable about Alzheimer’s, the more they report being worried of the disease and their risk.
“While many American women have heard the word ‘Alzheimer’s,’ only a small percentage of them truly realize that they are vulnerable,” said Shriver. “But there is a hunger for information and a willingness to change lifestyle behaviors. People just want to know what they have to do. There is a huge opening here to educate the American public, especially women. This is a major opportunity for doctors, corporations, nonprofits and the government to step forward and help. People have a desire to help wipe out this disease. They just have a lack of information about what they can do to affect their likelihood of getting it.”
Americans, particularly women and millennials, also reported feeling overwhelmed and unprepared for the expectations that come along with being a caregiver. The majority say they want to be the one to care for a family member in need, but they know next to nothing about the cost of the disease, who pays for it, or what to do about it. In fact, the majority of Americans say they want a family member to care for them, but haven’t even had the conversation with their loved ones about what that means. Many incorrectly believe that Medicare will help cover the costs, which can bankrupt families.
In 2014, the average annual cost to live in a nursing facility was $87,600; the cost for a home health aide was $45,800; and participation in a community-based adult day-care center was $16,900. In contrast, the average per-capita retirement savings among Americans age 62 and older was $20,000 in 2015.
“Most Americans are unaware of their risk of Alzheimer’s, unprepared to be a family caregiver, and uninformed about the cost of care,” said Katherine Hayes, Director of Health Policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center. “Individuals and family caregivers in need of long-term services and supports, such as bathing, dressing and medication management, often face devastating out-of-pocket costs. These survey results should prompt every family to sit down together and make a plan for addressing their long-term health care needs.”
Conducted October 18-23, 2017, the poll by Hart Research Associates surveyed a nationally representative sample of 800 Americans online, with an additional 100 interviews among millennial women and millennial men, respectively on Alzheimer’s disease, long-term care and their feelings on the state of their health today. For more information and a complete copy of survey results, please go to here.
Shriver brought her longtime commitment to women’s health and Alzheimer’s disease to New York City for her first annual “A Women’s Health Summit: It Starts with the Brain,” an afternoon of informative conversation about women, brain health and brain science and discussion of survey results. The summit was co-hosted by Shriver and Nancy Dubuc, president and CEO, A+E Networks.
The health summit and the release of the poll coincide with the start of National Alzheimer’s Disease and Family Caregivers Month, which was designated by President Ronald Reagan in 1983. Fewer than 2 million Americans had Alzheimer’s at the time. Now, that number has risen to 5.4 million and a new person being diagnosed every 66 seconds. Two-thirds of those brains belong to women.
ABOUT THE BIPARTISAN POLICY CENTER
The Bipartisan Policy Center is a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that actively promotes bipartisanship to address the key challenges facing the nation. Our policy solutions are the product of informed deliberations by former elected and appointed officials, business and labor leaders, and academics and advocates who represent both ends of the political spectrum. We are currently focused on health, energy, national security, the economy, financial regulatory reform, housing, immigration, infrastructure, and governance. BPC was founded in 2007 by former U.S. Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole and George Mitchell. For more information, please visit: bipartisanpolicy.org.
ABOUT THE WOMEN’S ALZHEIMER’S MOVEMENT
The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement (WAM), a nonprofit organization founded by Maria Shriver, is committed to finding out why Alzheimer’s discriminates against women. We believe that answering the question of why women are disproportionately affected by Alzheimer’s will unlock the other mysteries surrounding this mind-blowing disease and that will lead to a cure for all. To that end, we urge scientists to conduct women-based research and raise funds to support it. We educate about facts and the connection between brain health and lifestyle. We empower women to take action to keep their brains healthy. We provide a platform for those caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s to share their stories and partner with organizations to provide caregiver respite grants. For more information, go to TheWomensAlzheimersMovement.org.
ABOUT MARIA SHRIVER
Maria Shriver is a mother of four, an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning journalist and producer, a six-time New York Times best-selling author, an NBC News Special Anchor and the founder of The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement. Shriver is one of the premier Alzheimer’s advocates in the United States, with over 14 years of boots-on-the-ground activism, journalism and personal testimony about the disease and the future of America’s brains. In 2010, her groundbreaking report The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Takes on Alzheimer’s was the first to report that Alzheimer’s disproportionately affects women. Shriver executive produced the Academy Award-winning film, “Still Alice,” which tells the story of a woman affected by early onset Alzheimer’s disease. She also co-executive produced the Emmy Award-winning HBO series “The Alzheimer’s Project” and authored the best-selling children’s book What’s Happening to Grandpa? Shriver has testified in front of Congress twice on behalf of Alzheimer’s. Her voice was instrumental to the 2010 passage of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act. In 2017, Shriver received the Alzheimer’s Association’s first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award.
More Stories from Our Caregiving Community
BY JENNIFER L. FITZPATRICK, MSW, LCSW-C, CSP “How was your day, Mom?” When a loved one with a dementia diagnosis resides in a nursing home or an assisted living community, caregivers often struggle during their visits. Well-meaning caregivers typically attempt to have...read more
BY VICKI KAUFMANN “Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.” (Henri J.M. Nouwen) I like to think that my training as a...read more
WAM’s video featuring touching stories of caregivers and their loved ones on the frontlines of Alzheimer’s.read more