'This Week' Transcript: O'Donnell and Coons


SHRIVER: My father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2003. And at that time, there was very little information about the disease, and there was a big stigma about it. So like millions of families, we had to start talking to people, asking questions, finding out what trials were going on, what medicine to do, who would do the care-giving, and we started down a very long road that continues to this day.

So it turned me, first, to an author and then to a producer and today to an activist to try to find a cure, bring attention to this disease, and reduce some of the stigma and make it in the mainstream.

AMANPOUR: So along with the doctors and along with you, Ann, there are proposals that you're trying to figure out. You just -- you just said that it could -- it's like the silent killer. People don't really want to talk about it.

SHRIVER: Well, what we want to say is also that this affects, as you said in that report, 60 percent of the people who get it are women. They're also doing the caretaking. And millions of these women are also working full-time. And in the polling, we report that they often say we had to go into work late, we had to change our job to part-time, as that woman was talking, or leave our job altogether. And the workplace and the government have not kept up with this change that's going on all across the country.

O'LEARY: Yeah, this is a -- you know, it's a tremendous burden on families. We estimate that families are spending $56,000 a year they're paying out of pocket. We don't have any insurance for this.

One of the great things about the health reform bill is we are going to start. There's going to be long-term insurance now that's going to be provided to people through their employers, but there's so much more we can do to relieve that financial burden.

AMANPOUR: Well, what specifically can be done to help people in the workplace, for instance, who need to take time to look after their family members?

O'LEARY: Well, it's interesting. You know, if you look at the difference between men and women who are having this problem in the workplace, more often men are saying that they are able to take the flexibility. Women often drop out of the workplace because they don't have policies in place to provide flexibility, they don't have policies in place that says that they can take the leave and they'll get some pay when they take the leave.

We have no insurance, no paid family leave, no right to request flexibility in our country. These are things that we need to have a conversation about and really start working on.

SHRIVER: But I think today employers can go and talk to their employees and say, "Do you need flexible hours?" And this is particularly important to women who are in low-paying jobs and don't have the power. There's a lot of fear in the workplace today to even go and ask. Many of the people we polled said that they felt more comfortable asking for help with childcare than with elder care, that it's not something that employers are comfortable talking about. They don't really even know how to address it.

AMANPOUR: And isn't the child -- I mean, the childcare act is potentially -- you're saying there should be some elder care legislated, as well?

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