Is Alzheimer’s a Women’s Disease?

seniorwomanThe toll of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) on our nation is enormous and growing.Roughly 5 million American seniors age 65 and older are living with AD and that number climbs to around 16.5 million (about 1 in 3) for those 85 and older. Worse, Alzheimer’s cases are expected to more than triple by 2050.

Alzheimer’s disease is a result of progressive brain cell death, causing memory loss and cognitive decline. While physically debilitating, an even bigger threat is the accumulated stress AD places on the finances, relationships, and independence of its victims and their families. New evidence also shows that women may be bearing the brunt of this debilitating condition.

The burden of Alzheimer’s and its impact on women

According to a new report released last month from the Alzheimer’s Association, AD takes a disproportionate toll on women more than men.

In 2010, the Alzheimer’s Association partnered with Maria Shriver and The Shriver Report to conduct a groundbreaking poll exploring the glaring connection between Alzheimer’s disease and women. And they published their results in The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Takes on Alzheimer’s. Affirming a greater fear among women for developing the disease, the study showed senior women are nearly twice as likely to suffer from AD as men. Plus, women in their 60’s are about twice as likely to get AD in older age as they are breast cancer.

As expected, women are also more likely to provide primary care for someone with Alzheimer’s and to pay a bigger personal and professional price for their efforts than men do. In fact, more than twice as many women provide full-time care for Alzheimer’s victims than men. Plus, significantly more women than men reduce hours at work, take leaves of absence, or quit their jobs indefinitely in order to provide care for loved ones with AD.

Not surprisingly, the emotional toll on caregivers is enormous. Among those feeling trapped by the responsibility of tending to loved ones with AD, women are 8.5 times more likely to feel isolated – and even depressed- than men.

Now, a comprehensive analysis of this research found in the Alzheimer’s Association 2014 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report details this tragic story of Alzheimer’s devastation on American women.

“Through our role in the development of The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Takes on Alzheimer’s in 2010in conjunction with Maria Shriver, we know that women are the epicenter of Alzheimer’s disease, representing majority of both people with the disease and Alzheimer’s caregivers, said Angela Geiger, Chief Strategy Officer of the Alzheimer’s Association. “Alzheimer’s Association Facts and Figures examines the impact of this unbalanced burden.”


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