Women’s Lifetime Risk for Developing Alzheimer’s is Higher Than Men’s

There are more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s and that number is expected to triple by 2050. We may never know the full economic and physical effects that Alzheimer’s has on our nation. However, a new report from the Alzheimer’s Association and The Shriver Report is giving us greater insight into the effects of the fatal disease and shows us just how burdensome it can be, especially on women.

Women's Lifetime Risk for Developing Alzheimer's is Higher Than Men's

Startling Statistics for Women and Alzheimer’s Disease

A new report from the Alzheimer’s Association has found that women are at a higher risk for developing Alzheimer’s than men. Angela Geiger, chief strategy officer for the Alzheimer’s Association commented on the report saying,

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

The numbers are shocking:

  •  Out of the 5 million people living with Alzheimer’s in the United States, 3.2 million are women.
  • 1 out of 6 women over the age of 60 will develop Alzheimer’s, compared to 1 out of 11 men.
  • Women in their 60s are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s than they are to develop breast cancer.

The main reason that women are more likely to develop the neurological disease is simply that women live longer than men and that age is still the number one risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s. From that perspective, we are all at risk for Alzheimer’s. As Angela Geiger says,

“Age is the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s, and America is aging. As a nation, we must band together to protect our greatest asset, our brains.”

Bearing the Burden of Alzheimer’s

Not only are women facing the brunt of the disease from a patient standpoint, women are also bearing the burden of caregiving. There are 2.5 times as many women than men providing 24 hour care for someone living with Alzheimer’s. 17% of female caregivers who feel isolated also feel depressed, compared to 2% of men.

But, the burden is not just emotional. It is also financial:

  • 20% of women exchanged their full time job for a part time job to act as a caregiver
  • 18% of women took a leave of absence of work to provide caregiving
  • 11% of women left work entirely
  • 10% of women lost job benefits due to caregiving responsibilities

Changing the Statistics

Given this information and knowing that Alzheimer’s is still one of the most misunderstood and underreported diseases, we must take action. The Alzheimer’s Association has launched a national initiative that brings attention to the plight of women against Alzheimer’s. Called “My Brain,” the initiative strives to include 1 million women and serve as a resource for female caregivers and patients.

To learn more about the report and the impact Alzheimer’s has on women, see Maria Shriver on the Today Show.

Were you surprised to hear that more women are effected by Alzheimer’s than men? Let us know how you reacted in the comments below.

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