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A Woman's Nation Takes on Alzheimer's is Tribute to Sargent Shriver

A Woman's Nation Takes on Alzheimer's

Maria Shriver is just one of many women who are affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Her father, Robert Sargent Shriver Jr, was one of the 5.3 million Americans with the neurodegenerative disease. In a collection of essays entitled “The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Takes on Alzheimer’s”, Ms. Shriver gives an insider’s look at the current trends in Alzheimer’s disease, examines cutting-edge medical research, and looks at societal impacts, particularly how the devastating disease affects women .

Women Will Be Disproportionately Affected by Alzheimer's Disease

“I’m Maria Shriver, and I’m a child of Alzheimer’s,” is how she introduced herself when she testified before the Senate Special Committee on Aging. Ms. Shriver was there in support of the Alzheimer’s Study Group who went on to develop an action plan to deal with Alzheimer’s disease. She used the forum to highlight the epidemic’s effect on women as caregivers, advocates and people living with the disease.

Read: Senate Passes National Alzheimer's Project Act

Currently it is estimated that there are about 11 million people caring for a patient with Alzheimer’s disease. Three-fifths of them are women. At least half of the women caring for someone with Alzheimer’s provide more than 40 hours a week in care. A third care for their loved one 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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The majority of this care is unpaid. More often than not, women report that they become the primary caregiver to their family member because no one else can, or will, do it.

In addition to the economic this creates – caring for a single person with Alzheimer’s costs about $56,800 each year – many of these woman are a part of the “Sandwich Generation”, meaning they are also caring for children or grandchildren under the age of 18.

Read: Alzheimer's Brain Changes Begin Years Before Symptoms

A Woman’s Nation Takes On Alzheimer’s is a collection of essays from a wide variety of people: family members who have cared for patients with Alzheimer’s, physicians and other health experts who discuss hope for a cure or at least a slowing of the progression of the disease, and a discussion of governmental policies that provides a strategy for dealing with Alzheimer’s on a national level.

Sargent Shriver passed away on January 18, 2011. At the end of his life, though his memory failed, he lived an active life. "At the age of 93, my Dad still goes to Mass every day. And believe it or not, he still remembers the Hail Mary But he doesn’t remember ME ,” said Ms. Shriver in an ABC interview. “I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that that STILL makes me cry. But that’s the heartbreak and the reality of Alzheimer’s."

“The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Takes on Alzheimer’s” can be purchased through Simon and Schuster Books for $9.99.