"These survey results reveal that changes in cognition as the disease progresses were an important concern among caregivers," said Eric J. Hall, president and Chief Executive Officer of AFA. "We encourage caregivers and health care professionals to discuss these changes and any others during regular visits."
As AD - a progressive brain disease typically characterized by three stages: mild, moderate and severe - changes over time, caregivers and their healthcare professionals may wish to regularly discuss modifications in lifestyle and treatment. According to the survey, the majority of AD caregivers are proactive participants in the dialogue and decision-making around their loved one's disease, and 75 percent of those surveyed were either "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with the communication they have with their loved one's health care professional. For the remaining 25 percent (who are either "somewhat" or "not at all satisfied"), there may be room for improvement in this dialogue.
"AD caregivers are typically the first to notice when their loved one's symptoms are becoming worse and whether the disease may be progressing to the next stage, which is why caregivers are essential partners in disease management discussions," said Barry W. Rovner, M.D., director of the Division of Geriatric Psychiatry and professor in the departments of Neurology and Psychiatry at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia. "In the face of this devastating chronic and progressive disease, it is important for AD caregivers to know about the available educational resources, support networks and treatments in order to enhance these discussions at all stages of the disease."
Key Survey Findings
Following are results illustrating the difficulties faced by caregivers, concerns about disease progression and discussions with health care professionals, highlighting differences between men and women. Of note, 173 males and 351 females were surveyed, which is reflective of the overall unpaid AD caregiver population, in which caregivers are more likely to be female.
Difficulties Faced by Caregivers
- 55 percent of AD caregivers surveyed said caring for their loved one has taken a toll on their own health
- Women surveyed were more likely to worry "all the time" compared to men [13 percent versus 3 percent]. Also, women were less likely than men to feel that they have enough support to take care of themselves and their own needs [60 percent versus 76 percent]
- 60 percent of AD caregivers surveyed said they feel overwhelmed
- Women surveyed were more likely to consider "maintaining relationships with family or friends" as a challenge compared to men [47 percent versus 31 percent]
- 84 percent of caregivers of loved ones with severe AD surveyed said caregiving frequently stops them from participating in activities that they enjoy, which is more than caregivers of loved ones with mild (67 percent) and moderate (68 percent) AD
Concerns About Disease Progression
- The three greatest caregiver concerns about the progression of their loved one's AD were memory loss (41 percent), personal safety (33 percent) and confusion (27 percent)
- 67 percent of AD caregivers surveyed named at least one change in cognitive symptoms as a main concern about the progression of their loved one's AD
- Men surveyed were more likely to be concerned about memory loss compared to women [50 percent versus 37 percent]
Discussions with Health Care Professionals
- Men surveyed were more likely to be satisfied with communication with their health care professional compared to women [84 percent versus 70 percent]. Also, men were more likely to regularly discuss options for information or support [26 percent versus 14 percent]
- 53 percent of AD caregivers surveyed who said they were not very involved (somewhat or not at all involved) in these interactions were dissatisfied with their loved one's treatment, as compared with 31 percent who said they were engaged
Additional information about AD and caregiver resources can be found at www.alzfdn.org.
The survey was conducted by Harris Interactive in September 2010 for Eisai Inc. and Pfizer Inc. in partnership with AFA. A total of 524 non-professional adult AD caregivers, including those of mild, moderate and severe AD patients, were surveyed. Caregivers were asked to classify the stage of their loved one's AD, as identified by their loved one's health care professional. Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the U.S. non-professional AD caregiver population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. A full methodology is available. Funding was provided by Eisai Inc. and Pfizer Inc.
AD is a degenerative disease of the brain that gets worse over time and is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Right now, as many as 5.1 million Americans age 65 and older have AD, with 3.6 million of those having moderate-to-severe disease. As our population ages - including the first wave of baby boomers turning 65 in 2011 - the disease may impact a greater percentage of Americans. The number of people aged 65 and older may more than double between 2010 and 2050; likewise, those 85 and older may rise three-fold. As the number of people with AD increases, it is likely that the number of caregivers will increase as well.
Alzheimer's Foundation of America
The Alzheimer's Foundation of America, based in New York, is a non-profit organization that unites more than 1,400 member organizations nationwide with the goal of providing optimal care and services to individuals confronting dementia and to their caregivers and families. Its services include a toll-free hotline, educational materials, a free quarterly magazine for caregivers and professional training. For more information, call toll-free 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.
Eisai Inc. was established in 1995 and is ranked among the top 20 U.S. pharmaceutical companies (based on retail sales). The company began marketing its first product in the United States in 1997 and has rapidly grown to become a fully integrated pharmaceutical business with fiscal year 2009 (year ended March 31, 2010) sales of approximately $3.9 billion. Eisai's areas of commercial focus include neurology, gastrointestinal disorders and oncology/critical care. The company serves as the U.S. pharmaceutical operation of Eisai Co., Ltd.
Eisai has a global product creation organization that includes U.S.-based R&D facilities in Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina and Pennsylvania as well as manufacturing facilities in Maryland and North Carolina. The company's areas of R&D focus include neuroscience; oncology; vascular, inflammatory and immunological reaction; and antibody-based programs. For more information about Eisai, please visit www.eisai.com.
Eisai Co., Ltd.
Eisai Co., Ltd. is a research-based human health care (hhc) company that discovers, develops and markets products throughout the world. Through a global network of research facilities, manufacturing sites and marketing subsidiaries, Eisai actively participates in all aspects of the worldwide healthcare system. Eisai employs approximately 11,000 employees worldwide.
Pfizer Inc.: Working together for a healthier world™
At Pfizer, we apply science and our global resources to improve health and well-being at every stage of life. We strive to set the standard for quality, safety and value in the discovery, development and manufacturing of medicines for people and animals. Our diversified global health care portfolio includes human and animal biologic and small molecule medicines and vaccines, as well as nutritional products and many of the world's best-known consumer products. Every day, Pfizer colleagues work across developed and emerging markets to advance wellness, prevention, treatments and cures that challenge the most feared diseases of our time. Consistent with our responsibility as the world's leading biopharmaceutical company, we also collaborate with health care providers, governments and local communities to support and expand access to reliable, affordable health care around the world. For more than 150 years, Pfizer has worked to make a difference for all who rely on us. To learn more about our commitments, please visit us at www.pfizer.com.
Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for The Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us - and our clients - stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.