Alzheimer's affects more women in more ways


Alzheimer’s is a women’s disease. As many as five million Americans suffer from the disease and two-thirds of them are women. Alzheimer’s is the seventh leading cause of death and the only one in the top ten that can’t be prevented, cured or its progression stopped.

“Clearly this is an illness of women more than men,” said Victor Henderson, MD, MS, Professor Epidemiology and Neurology and Neurological Sciences at Stanford University. “In part, it has to do with the fact that women live longer than men. There are real differences in longevity.”

There could be an estrogen connection; researchers have studied the hormone connection to the dementia disease for years. Results are inconclusive. “There are other risk factors that may come into play,” said Henderson, “which can further explain why women may be predisposed to Alzheimer’s disease.” Some of these may be family history, genetics and perhaps heart disease.

In addition to women experiencing Alzheimer’s two-to-one compared to women, women, usually daughters, also provide the caregiving for their Alzheimer parent. This compounds the social, psychological and financial burden of the disease on women. “From my experience working with Alzheimer’s patients, the burden does appear, in general, to fall more heavily on daughers,” said Mitzi Liotta, MSW, a social worker specializing in dementia at the Jewish Home for the Elderly in Fairfield, CT. “Sometimes the burden of disease manifests in other ways too like daughters micromanaging care, medication, and treatments. The toll can be great, emotiuonally, morally, mentall, spiritually and physically for these caregivers.”

With more awareness women can look for early signs of the disease and get treatment as early as possible.

Source: National Institute on Ageing, MedicalNewsToday

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