It is estimated that 500,000 Americans are affected each year due to some role that Alzheimer’s disease has played in their lives. That number was projected to grow beyond 700,000 as we now enter 2015. This has lead to a total of 5.1 million Americans currently confronting the disease today. Perhaps the only thing scarier than these findings is the suggestion that women are more frequently impacted. These figures come as a result of a recent study released by the Alzheimer’s Association and reported by USA Today online.
As revealed by the study, women are far more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than men.
One in six women over 65 will get it during their lifetime, compared with one in 11 men. In fact, according to Maria Carrillo, the Alzheimer’s Association’s vice president of medical and scientific affairs, “women are nearly twice as likely to get Alzheimer’s than breast cancer, and Alzheimer’s cases are expected to more than triple by 2050.”
If this were not enough, the study goes on to report that, not surprisingly, women are more likely than men to be caregivers for someone with Alzheimer’s, and tend to pay a bigger personal and professional price for the care they provide.
The study highlights three key areas regarding women as caregivers.
1. There are more than twice as many women providing Alzheimer’s care than men.
2. The care they provide is sustained and time-consuming.
3. Substantially more women than men have to cut back on work hours, give up jobs, and/or lose benefits to provide that care.
Moreover, it goes without saying that caring for a loved one who is slowly losing their memory and heading toward death takes an untold emotional toll, as well.
Men, of course, are hardly spared from being impacted. Nearly $1 of every $5 spent by Medicare goes to someone living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, men, of course, included, and nationwide, figures show we’ll spend about $214 billion this year on the disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
It is obvious, noted Angela Geiger, chief strategy officer for the Alzheimer’s Association, that “this burden is felt across the board,” but it cannot be ignored that women are facing the brunt of this battle. She and the association will soon be launching an advertising campaign to raise awareness about the cost of Alzheimer’s on women.
These are certainly sobering findings and statistics. They should serve as an urgent wakeup call for women to get informed and involved.
Maria Shriver recently challenged women to get educated, get engaged, get empowered and wipe out Alzheimer’s. In partnership with A Woman’s Nation, the Alzheimer’s Association and a global community of empowered women, the challenge will enlist women to take “The Pledge,” help raise funds to research women’s brains and challenge other organizations to make women’s brain research a priority.