Women and Alzheimer’s: Did You Know?

LoudounNovDec2015HighResNoBleeds_Page_12Over 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s and as many as 16 million will have the disease in 2050. The cost of caring for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias was estimated to total 214 BILLION in 2014 and increasing.

Women are at the epicenter of the Alzheimer’s crisis. Almost two-thirds of American seniors living with Alzheimer’s disease are women. Not only are women more likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s, she is more likely to be the caregiver of those with Alzheimer’s.

Sixty-three percent of unpaid caregivers are women. According to the 2014 Alzheimer’s Association Facts and Figures report, a woman’s estimated lifetime risk for developing Alzheimer’s at age 65 is 1 in 6, compared to nearly 1 in 11 for men. Women in their 60s are almost twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s compared to being diagnosed with breast cancer.

Adding to women’s Alzheimer’s burden, there are 2.5 times more women than men who provide intensive “on-duty” care 24 hours for someone living with Alzheimer’s disease. Among caregivers who feel isolated, women are much more likely than men to link isolation with feeling depressed (17% of women vs. 2% of men).

The strain of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is also felt in the workplace. Among caregivers who are fully employed while providing caregiving many reduce the work load to part time employment to take care of a loved one. The increased financial burden becomes an additional emotional and financial factor.

All races, ethnicity, and economic status are impacted by the disease. Unfortunately it is estimated, some ten million baby boomers will develop Alzheimer’s. “As individuals age, some changes are expected, but serious memory problems are not a normal part of aging and knowing the difference between what is normal and what is not can be vitally important,” says, Sherry Peterson, CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Richmond Chapter. “Although there is no cure for the disease and no test to definitively diagnose the disease, it is critical than an individual seeks an early and careful evaluation from a Physician for the loved one early especially if early signs of the disease are detected.”

Individuals may experience one or more of the signs to varying degrees. Early diagnosis is important for the individual with the disease and his or her family.

The Alzheimer’s Association has chapters in most Northern VA counties including Loudoun, Prince William Arlington and Fairfax. Each provides round-the-clock information and assistance through the Helpline (800-272-3900). Training for family members and care providers including support groups, facilitated by trained volunteers is also available. Monthly one-on-one consultation for individuals with Alzheimer’s and their families and nationally recognized programs to aid in safe and timely are with patients who wander and/or become lost is available as well.

“We cannot change your loved one’s diagnosis, but we can provide the support needed to make it easier to manage the disease and plan for the  future,” added Peterson. For more information, please visit www.alz.org

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