Women and Alzheimer’s Disease: A Global Epidemic

Taken from the May/June 2015 issue of the Women's Health Activist Newsletter.

By 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease may nearly triple, from 5 million to as many as 16 million, barring the development of medical breakthroughs to prevent, slow or stop the disease.

Alzheimer's is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States; however, it may cause even more deaths than official sources recognize. The disease kills more people than prostate cancer and breast cancer combined. Alzheimer's disease is the only cause of death among the top 10 in the nation that cannot be prevented, cured, or even slowed.

Women Are at the Epicenter of the Alzheimer’s Epidemic

According to the Alzheimer’s Association 2014 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures report, women account for almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease. A woman’s estimated lifetime risk of developing Alzheimer’s at age 65 is 1 in 6, compared with nearly 1 in 11 for a man. As real a concern as breast cancer is to women's health, women in their 60s are about twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s over the rest of their lives as they are to develop breast cancer.

Not only are women more likely to have Alzheimer's, they are also more likely to be caregivers of those with the disease. More than 3 in 5 unpaid Alzheimer's caregivers are women — and there are 2.5 times as many women than men who provide intensive “on-duty” care 24 hours a day for someone living with the disease.

Because of caregiving duties, women are likely to experience adverse consequences in the workplace. Among caregivers who have been employed while they were also caregiving:

  • 20% of women vs. 3% of men went from working full-time to working part-time while acting as a caregiver.
  • 18% of women vs. 11% of men took a leave of absence.
  • 11% of women vs. 5% of men gave up work entirely.
  • 10% of women vs. 5% of men lost job benefits as a result of their caregiving duties.

Women's Brains Matter

Women are leaders and influencers in family, community, business and philanthropy. Realizing the impact Alzheimer’s has on women — and the impact women can have when they work together – the Alzheimer’s Association has launched a national initiative highlighting the power of women in the fight against this disease. The Alzheimer’s Association My Brain Movement calls on 1 million women to use their amazing brains to help wipe out Alzheimer's disease — one of the greatest threats to women's health.

We believe women have the passion and the strength to make real change. By using our collective brainpower and voices, we can create awareness of the impact Alzheimer's has on our health, our families, and our nation. We can use our voices on Capitol Hill to increase funding for research and care. And, we can make an impact by donating, volunteering, and getting involved in this issue.

We Need Our Collective Brainpower to Fight Alzheimer's

The My Brain Movement is a united commitment to take action and make change for future generations. Be one of the 1 million women using their brains to wipe out Alzheimer’s. The time is now. Join the movement. Learn how you can change the numbers for future generations at alz.org/mybrain.

The Alzheimer’s Association® is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research.

“My husband has younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease. When my children look back, I want them to know that I did everything in my power to release our family from this tragedy. I am a fighter. I am someone that wants to make a difference.” – Karen Garner, care partner, working mother, passionate Alzheimer's advocate

“My mother, a teacher for 35 years, can no longer feed herself, dress herself or recognize her loved ones. The more I lose my mom to Alzheimer's, the more I experience how painful it is to miss someone who is sitting right in front of you.” – Lauren Miller Rogen, screen writer, actress, funny lady, co-founder of Hilarity for Charity