Is AD a Women's Issue?

Is Alzheimer's Disease a women's issue? How can women support each other in this?

While Alzheimer's Disease is not a female disease, there are some interesting statistics:

  • Almost 2/3 of American's with Alzheimer’s Disease are women.

  • Approximately 2/3 of caregivers are women; more specifically, over 1/3 of dementia caregivers are daughters of the patient.

  • Approximately 1/4 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 Alzheimer’s Disease 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.

A study by Dr. Marie Pasinski found that there are seven controllable risk factors for Alzheimer's:  diabetes, midlife hypertension, midlife obesity, smoking, depression, cognitive inactivity or low educational attainment, and physical inactivity.

Healthy habits, including eating right for long-term brain health, can counteract many of these risk factors.