Alzheimerâ€™s disease affects women more often than it affects men. A new report shows that two thirds of Alzheimerâ€™s disease patients are women. Plus, unpaid caregivers of Alzheimerâ€™s patients, such as friends and family members, are overwhelmingly women.
According to The Shriver Report: A Womanâ€™s Nation Takes on Alzheimer's, a joint project of Maria Shriver and the Alzheimerâ€™s Association, 60 percent of those unpaid caregivers are women. Sadly, those caregivers are more likely to end up getting Alzheimerâ€™s themselves. How likely? Six times more likely!
The report says that the likelihood of the caregivers to get Alzheimerâ€™s themselves increases â€œin part [due to] the emotional stress and physical demands of providing care to relatives and loved ones.â€ So, when these caregivers, who are mostly women, go on to get Alzheimerâ€™s, they will be cared for by more women who will be at a greater risk for Alzheimerâ€™s, and the cycle continues.
Frighteningly, the impact of Alzheimerâ€™s on women will likely continue to increase, as there are around 5.3 million Alzheimerâ€™s patients in the US. With the aging Baby Boomer population, The Shriver Report suggests that there could be as many as 16 million Alzheimerâ€™s patients here in the US by 2050.
So, what can women do to help protect themselves from Alzheimerâ€™s? The Shriver Report does not offer any answers to that. But, Maria Shriver, whose own father has Alzheimerâ€™s, says, â€œIâ€™m hopeful because I knowâ€¦there are things we can do today that [may] postpone the development of Alzheimerâ€™s in our own livesâ€¦ Anything that is good for your heart [such as exercise] is good for your brain. While the [researchers] debate it, just do it.â€
What do you think of The Shriver Report? Have you seen the Alzheimerâ€™s report statistics play out in the lives of women in your family? Are you surprised that Alzheimerâ€™s affects women more than men?