Is AD a Women's Issue?
Is Alzheimer's disease a women's issue? How can women support each other in this?
- Almost 2/3 of American's with AD are women.
- Approximately two-thirds of caregivers are women; more specifically, over one-third of dementia caregivers are daughters.
- Approximately one-quarter of dementia caregivers are "sandwich generation" caregivers — meaning that they care not only for an aging parent, but also for children under age 18. From www.alz.org
One way to start answering the larger question of why AD impacts women more than men is to consider some of the reasons why these statistics that I pulled from the Alzheimer’s Foundations’ website might exist:
Women are often the primary caretakers for the family which means years and even decades of interrupted sleep caring for young children and sick family members. Sleep deprivation is a primary risk factor for cognitive decline.
As women progress through menopause, the decline in estrogen can have a marked impact on cognition with brain fog being a primary symptom for many women. Estrogen is a 'tropic factor’ which means it stimulates growth. A lack of estrogen can lead to a predominance in atropic factors that on balance lead to decline.
Caretakers are less likely to have time to take care of themselves as they prioritize the care of loved ones, thus the essential lifestyle habits that reduce the risk of cognitive decline (healthy diet, sleep, exercise, stress management, social connections) are more likely to be put on hold.