During National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month in November, the Alzheimer’s Association is teaming up with the Ad Council to launch a new national communications campaign “Hopeful Together.” Highlighting the campaign are public service announcements (PSAs) aimed at encouraging families to discuss cognitive concerns with each other and their doctor sooner to enable early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia.
“Many families are hesitant to discuss cognitive concerns even when they know something is wrong,” said Michael Carson, chief marketing officer, Alzheimer’s Association. “But having these critical conversations and seeing a doctor together can help facilitate early detection and diagnosis, offering individuals and families important benefits. Some forms of cognitive decline are treatable, so it’s important to get a medical evaluation. This communications strategy will enable and empower families to be proactive in addressing cognitive concerns, so they can get the help they need.”
A new Alzheimer’s Association/Ad Council omnibus survey finds fewer than half of Americans surveyed (44%) say they would talk to a loved one right away about seeing a doctor if they noticed signs of cognitive decline. Instead, those polled say they are more likely to check in with other relatives (56%) and do research online (50%) when observing troubling signs.
Avoiding or delaying these important conversations, however, is not what most Americans say they want from family members if they were showing signs of decline. According the survey, more than 4 in 5 Americans (83%) say they want family members to share concerns if signs appear.
The new “Hopeful Together” campaign aims to overcome current barriers that prevent families from discussing cognitive concerns. The PSAs, available in both in English and Spanish, are inspired by real-life stories from three families who were proactive in initiating conversations after family members noticed cognitive changes in themselves or a loved one. The campaign’s website (in English at alz.org/timetotalk or in Spanish at alz.org/tiempo), offers tools and resources to help families recognize early warning signs of Alzheimer’s, tips for facilitating conversations about cognition, benefits of early detection and diagnosis, a discussion guide for use with doctors and health providers and other disease-related information.
The new survey sheds light on some common reasons families are reluctant to address cognitive concerns. According to the survey, top reasons for not addressing cognitive changes with a family member sooner, include “unsure if changes were normal aging” (39%), “it would be a difficult conversation” (35%) and “not wanting to hurt a loved ones feelings” (31%).
“We know many families struggle with raising these concerns,” said Heidi Arthur, chief campaign development officer, Ad Council. “It’s our goal that this critical campaign will continue to encourage audiences to notice the signs early, trust their gut, and have the talk. These conversations make all the difference in the lives of those who have been diagnosed and their families.”
Currently, there are more than 6 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s and 1in 3 seniors dies from the disease. Two-thirds of Americans age 65 and older living with Alzheimer’s are women. By 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s is projected to reach nearly 13 million.
The national communications campaign includes PSAs featuring real stories from Hispanic and African American families to reach two vulnerable populations at higher risk of the disease. Older African-Americans are about twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias, as older Whites Americans. Hispanic Americans are about one and one-half times as likely.
The “Hopeful Together” national communications campaign was created and produced pro-bono by Content+, the creative and production group within global media agency Mindshare. Mindshare also developed a multi-channel media strategy and audience plan for the campaign. The PSAs will run on television, radio, print, outdoor, and digital sites across the country.
“We are honored to be part of this important campaign,” said David Lang, chief content officer, North America, Mindshare. “Alzheimer’s is an insidious disease that has affected so many families, including many of our own. We hope this campaign will capture the attention of people across the nation and encourage them to have those very difficult family conversations and go see a doctor together to get the help they need.”
Supporting Dementia Caregivers in November
During National Family Caregivers Month in November, the Alzheimer’s Association is also encouraging all Americans to support Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers.
- More than 11 million people in the U.S. are currently providing unpaid care to a person living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
- Nearly half of all caregivers (48%) who provide help to older adults do so for someone with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
- In 2020, these caregivers provided 15.3 hours of unpaid care valued at nearly $257 billion.
“Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or another dementia becomes an around-the-clock job—it can be all-encompassing, and all-consuming,” said Monica Moreno, senior director, care and support, Alzheimer’s Association. “During November, we’re encouraging people to make a concerted effort to lend a hand in appreciation for all they do. Providing help and support to caregivers can be easier than most people think. Even little acts can make a big difference.”
The Alzheimer’s Association offers these suggestions:
- Learn: Educate yourself about Alzheimer’s disease – its symptoms, its progression and the common challenges facing caregivers. The more you know, the easier it will be to find ways to help.
- Build a Team: Organize family and friends who want to help with caregiving. The Alzheimer’s Association offers links to several free, online care calendar resources that families can use to build their care team, share takes and coordinate helpers.
- Give Caregivers a Break: Make a standing appointment to give the caregiver a break. Spend time with the person living with dementia and allow the caregiver a chance to run errands, go to their own doctor’s appointment, participate in a support group or engage in an activity that helps them recharge. Even one hour could make a big difference in providing the caregiver some relief.
- Check In: Many Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers report feeling isolated or alone. So start the conversation – a phone call to check in, sending a note, or stopping by for a visit can make a big difference in a caregiver’s day and help them feel supported.
- Tackle the To-Do List: Ask for a list of errands that you can help with – such as picking up groceries or prescriptions. Offer to do yard work or other household chores. It can be hard for a caregiver to find time to complete these simple tasks that non-caregivers take for granted.
- Be Specific and Be Flexible: Open-ended offers of support (“call me if you need anything” or “let me know if I can help”) may be well intended, but are often dismissed. Be specific in your offer (“I’m going to the store, what do you need?”). Continue to let the caregiver know that you are there and ready to help.
- Help for the Holidays: The upcoming holiday season can pose additional challenges for families facing Alzheimer’s. Support caregivers around the holidays by offering to help with cooking, cleaning or gift shopping. If a caregiver has traditionally hosted family celebrations, offer your home instead.
- Join the Fight: Honor a person living with the disease and their caregiver by joining the fight against Alzheimer’s. You can volunteer with your local Alzheimer’s Association chapter, participate in fundraising events such as Walk to End Alzheimer’s and The Longest Day, advocate for more research funding, or sign up to participate in a clinical study through the Alzheimer’s Association’s Trial Match®.
To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and ways you can support families and people living with the disease, visit alz.org.