Dementia has become a shockingly large problem in today’s society, with rampant gender inequality, burdening women with most of the responsibility, costs and health consequences.
By 2050, there will be an estimated 135 million people worldwide with dementia. Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, is predicted to rise astronomically from more than 44 million in 2013. That’s according to a ADI (Alzheimer’s Disease International) report, which focused on dementia patients and their caregivers; both informal (family) and professional caregivers.
It turns out that the majority in each of these three groups (patients and caregivers) is women. Globally, women bear a disproportionate share of Alzheimer’s costs; both economic costs and health/quality of life costs, including stress, monetary costs and health consequences/symptoms of having Alzheimer’s, or caring for someone who does. An Emory University study from the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, published by the Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health, analyzed Medicare/Medicaid records for the decade of 2000 – 2010. Researchers looked at long-term-care costs paid by Medicaid, the family’s payments for home care, and the costs of assisted living facilities.
Facts About Women and Alzheimer’s Disease
The ADI report and Emory study bring focus to significant facts about women and Alzheimer’s, including:
- Across the world, there are more women Alzheimer’s patients than there are men. (ADI and Emory)
- Alzheimer’s occurs twice as often as breast cancer among women in their 60s, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, yet breast cancer receives more attention.
- The majority of those with dementia, nearly 60 percent, are in middle and low-income countries. By 2050, even more (two-thirds) will be living in LMI countries. (ADI)
- Dementia symptoms are worse for women, limiting their quality of life and requiring more care and supervision from caregivers. (ADI)
- Caregivers are primarily women, in both medical (hospital) settings and informal settings with family members providing care at home. (ADI and Emory)
- Women bear a six times greater economic burden from Alzheimer’s compared to men. Researchers found that the vastly unequal cost burden comes from women providing most of the “informal, uncompensated care” to Alzheimer’s patients. (Emory)
Future of Alzheimer’s Disease for Women
Dementia, mainly Alzheimer’s Disease, may reach epidemic proportions as Baby Boomers age. This places more and more stress on affected families, mainly female members, and the healthcare system. To preserve and improve the health and economic status of women in the United States and around the world, studies stress that much more governmental and public attention and funding must be focused on curing Alzheimer’s and/or managing symptoms.
In addition, more programs are needed to help women meet caregiving needs, including comprehensive long-term care options and additional home health care assistance. To stop or slow these disturbing dementia trends affecting women, researchers hope to encourage governments to take quick and comprehensive action to address the Alzheimer’s problem. Many of us will avoid Alzheimer’s Disease if these crucial steps are taken.
If you or a loved one are struggling with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, we encourage you to contact us at Primrose in Santa Rosa CA. We’ll be happy to provide a tour of the grounds and discuss the options we offer to care for your loved one with dementia. We also offer respite care options and other support for caregivers.
- ADI Summary on Women and Dementia
- Women and Dementia: A Global Research Review (pdf)
- Alzheimer’s Disease Worsens Twice As Fast In Women