Los Angeles, California – Results from a Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement and Caring Across Generations poll released today reveal the widespread impact of insufficient support for a nation laboring under the high financial and emotional cost and burden of caregiving. A broad segment of American families are desperate for solutions – signaling a major opportunity for candidates to tap into this powerful voting bloc by prioritizing caregiving issues and Alzheimer’s research.
Specifically, the poll found that most Americans are not aware of the higher prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease among women (2 out of 3 cases), are not discussing brain health with their doctors, and not prepared for the emotional or financial demands of caregiving, either for themselves or for older family members. This is even though two in three Americans are caregiving Americans, and the average caregiver puts in 35.9 hours a week – amounting to almost a full-time job. More than half don’t believe there are enough caregivers now (56%), with 17 percent more seeing the shortage getting worse in the future.
As a result, Americans across gender, race and party lines are deeply motivated by Alzheimer’s and caregiving needs as a political issue, and overwhelmingly indicated that they would support candidates who prioritize quality care for older adults and support for caregivers (85%); funding for Alzheimer’s and dementia research (74%); access to quality childcare (68%); and universal paid family leave (67%).
“Study after study has shown that women bear the brunt of both Alzheimer’s – with one in six women over the age of 60 now projected to get this disease – and the demands of caregiving in the home, whether it’s for a child, a disabled family member, or an older adult with Alzheimer’s or dementia,” stated Maria Shriver, founder of the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement. “Today we have nearly 6 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease, a number that could grow to 13.8 million by 2050 – two out of three will be women. Candidates running for public office today would be wise to tap into this demand for caregiving relief for women, and research for a cure for Alzheimer’s,” continued Ms. Shriver.
Democrats and Republicans Are Overwhelmingly United in Support of New Public Solutions
Notably, 82 percent supported creating a new federal program as a solution, which Americans would pay into and access as needed to afford childcare, caregiving support for an aging loved one, long-term care for a disability, and paid family and medical leave. Support was high among both Democrats and Republicans (90% and 71%, respectively), and across race (78% of white respondents, 86% of Latinx respondents, and 91% of African-Americans).
The demands of caregiving responsibilities are also impeding people’s ability to engage civically. The poll found that specifically due to their caregiving responsibilities, 36% are having a hard time keeping up with news and current events; 33% are not feeling informed enough about candidates and/or issues to vote; and one in five (20%) are indicating that they have not voted because caregiving responsibilities have made it too difficult, with Latinx voters (28%) and millennials aged 18-34 (30%) more likely to face this barrier.
“Across party lines, age, and ethnic backgrounds, Americans are looking for political leaders who understand the breadth of our families’ caregiving responsibilities, and who are willing to address our failing care infrastructure in ways that are more than piecemeal,” stated Ai-jen Poo, co-founder of Caring Across Generations. “We cannot wait another generation to address fundamental issues like child care, family medical emergencies, and long-term care for family members who have a disability, or are simply aging. Women, families of color, and the youngest and oldest among us have been disproportionately paying the price – and broad swaths of the country’s middle class are increasingly struggling. Our loved ones deserve to know that when they need care, it will be there. It’s time for elected officials and candidates running for office to take note of the clear message Americans are sending, and to start caring about care,” continued Ms. Poo.
The survey also revealed that women, specifically, are:
Only 17% of Americans are aware that women make up two out of every three Alzheimer’s cases, and that despite the fact that every 65 seconds a new brain develops Alzheimer’s, only 34% report having had conversations with their physician about their brain health.
More broadly, the survey, which included 1,510 adults, also found that in spite of increasing caregiving demands, a majority of Americans do not have any money set aside for their own future needs (66%), and while 53% expect to provide care for their aging parents, 35% could not move them into their home to do so.
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About the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement:
Founded by Maria Shriver, The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to raising awareness about women’s increased risk for Alzheimer’s and to educating the public — women and men — about lifestyle changes they can make to protect their brain health. Through our annual campaigns and initiatives, we also raise dollars to fund women-based Alzheimer’s research at leading scientific institutions, so that we can better understand this mind-blowing disease and hopefully get closer to a cure.
About Caring Across Generations:
Caring Across Generations is a national movement of families, caregivers, people with disabilities and aging Americans working to transform the way we care in this country. By harnessing the power of online and grassroots organizing and culture change work, we are shifting how our nation values caregiving and calling for policy solutions that enable all of us to live well and age with dignity. For more information, please visit caringacross.org.