Earlier this month, Bill Gates reminded us there is hope for an Alzheimer’s breakthrough and announced his $50 million investment in Alzheimer’s R&D.
It’s estimated that up to 16 million Americans could have Alzheimer’s disease by 2050 unless we find a way to treat it before then. An effective prevention will save lives, and advances in public awareness, Federal funding and continued progress and collaboration among researchers make for a promising future.
Employers are not immune to the impacts of this widespread and growing problem. One study found Alzheimer’s disease costs American businesses $61 million per year. Many working Americans are also caregivers for a loved with Alzheimer’s and can experience substantial emotional, financial and physical difficulties themselves. And while early onset Alzheimer’s disease is fortunately rare, as the workforce ages, individuals may develop the condition while they are employed.
In recognition of National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, the Business Group is pleased to share a new resource to help members understand the impacts of dementia and the role employers can play in educating and supporting their workforce--Alzheimer’s Disease and the Workplace: Prepare for the Future.
Until we do away with this devastating disease, we must be dedicated to providing education and supporting individuals living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. Here are some interesting and informative facts about Alzheimer’s disease you may not know.
According to a 2017 Alzheimer’s Association report, nearly 16 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s, and six in 10 were employed in the last year. Furthermore, dementia caregivers experience unique challenges that spillover into their work lives. In example, they were more likely than other caregivers to make significant changes to their work schedules, switch from full-time to part-time, give up working entirely, turn down a promotion, and retire early.
The fear of stigmatization may delay individuals and families from seeking a diagnosis. Increasing education and understanding, normalizing the conversation about brain health, and seeing the person behind the disease can help reduce the stigma. The Dementia Bill of Rights is a common resource used to reframe the discussion about caring for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
Although Alzheimer’s affects both men and women and there is not a known physiological link with gender, almost two-thirds of Americans diagnosed and approximately two-thirds of Alzheimer’s caregivers are women. Most women over 60 are unaware that they are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than breast cancer. More can be done to increase the education and dialogue around the effects of Alzheimer’s on women.
Early detection allows individuals to maximize benefits from available treatments, reduce symptoms, and increase opportunities for clinical trial participation, which are becoming increasingly valuable as we get closer to a solution. It can also be empowering for individuals to plan with their families for the future and be involved in legal, financial and long-term care decisions.
Don’t delay taking action. Begin the discussion in your organization, find ways to support caregivers, and be part of the solution to end Alzheimer’s disease.