One aspect of the debilitating disease of Alzheimer’s disease is only just beginning to register: Alzheimer’s disproportionately affects women.
In June, an important new global study on Women and Dementia was released. According to Cnn.com, the findings are significant and clear: Women are at higher risk for developing dementia and comprise the lion’s share of dementia caregivers.
With the duration of the disease and the lack of any real treatment, the impact on women who are poor or middle class is even more devastating.
Almost two-thirds of Americans with dementia — 3.2 million — are women. While women have a longer life expectancy than men, experts believe that living longer is not the only reason that women have a higher incidence of Alzheimer’s.
For example, research shows that loss of oestrogen after menopause can lead to deficits in brain metabolism, which may lead to Alzheimer’s.
Overall, women in the United States have a one-in-six chance of developing the disease while men have a one-in-11 chance.
The Cnn.com story says Alzheimer’s is poised to be a top health crisis in this century, comparable to heart disease and outpacing breast cancer by a significant factor. For example, in the United Kingdom, dementia is the No. 1 killer of women.
On the care side of the equation, studies show that women make up 60 percent to 70 percent of unpaid caregivers for family and friends.
What’s more, women caring for their spouse are less likely than male caregivers to receive formal support or external resources such as respite, personal care and housework assistance. Meanwhile, female caregivers experience higher levels of burden, stress and depressive symptoms than men.
For more information on the report, visit cnn.com