Did you know that, today, there are over 10 million women in the U.S. who live with or are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease?
When it comes to Alzheimer’s, the statistics are not in favor of women. For one thing, most of those who are living with Alzheimer’s disease are women.
The Alzheimer’s Association has a few more facts:
- Women in their sixties are more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease over the remainder of their lives as they are to develop breast cancer.
- Over 60% of family caregivers for loved ones with Alzheimer’s are women. And, of that number, over one third are daughters.
- Over her lifetime, a woman’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s at age sixty-five is 1 in 5.
You may be wondering at this point, “What about men?” That’s a great question. Women outnumber men significantly when it comes to vulnerability to Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Why is that?
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are a few reasons, both biological and social, why women are more susceptible to dementia than men are.
- Women, on average, live longer than men. Older age, as we know, brings greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. And yet, researchers are digging deeper to ascertain whether the greater risk could also be due to biological and/or genetic variation.
- Women are also much more likely to become the family caregivers of loved ones with dementia.
- An estimated three in five family caregivers for those with Alzheimer’s disease are women. Women also spend more time caregiving than men do and are about 2.5 times more likely than men to live with a loved one who has dementia.
An unfortunate side effect of women’s caring dedication is the negative impact is has on their work lives. Almost 19% of women caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s had to quit their work due to the demands of their caregiving responsibilities. And, in part, due to this, women caregivers are more vulnerable to experiencing depression and poor health than their male counterparts.
So, what does all this mean for women?
While the odds may not be in your favor, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to be better prepared in the event you develop Alzheimer’s yourself or need to care for a loved one with the disease. Here are few of them:
- Pay attention to your physical and emotional health. Leading a healthy lifestyle can 1) potentially help reduce the odds of developing dementia and 2) help you be better prepared to give care and to better withstand the stress associated with providing that care.
- Arm yourself with resources. Knowledge is power. It is also liberating. Keeping up to date on the latest research, articles, books and other information sources is important. The more you know, the better prepared you can be.
- Reach out for help. If you are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, identify sources of support. This may include other family members and friends as well as attending dementia support groups.
Researchers continue to gather data on dementia and seek better understanding of the disease itself and why certain people are more prone to developing dementia.
At our Anthem Memory Care communities, we are diligent about staying up to date on the latest findings and making sure we are using these insights to provide top quality care for our residents.
Feel free to contact us. We’re always here to help.