The Female Factor: Why the Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease Remains Higher in Women Than Men

The Female Factor: Why the Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease Remains Higher in Women Than Men

Scientists are at long last starting to gain an understanding on the discrepancy between the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s in women and men. Presently, up to 65% of those with Alzheimer’s over the age of 65 in Canada are female, and through a growing body of research, scientists are beginning to believe that biological and social determinants play an important role in the rate of diagnosis.

At the recent Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) in Los Angeles, Rebecca Edelmayer, the Alzheimer’s Association’s Director of Scientific Engagement, stated, “Women are at the epicenter of Alzheimer’s disease as both persons living with the disease and as caregivers of those with dementia. Over the last three years, the Alzheimer’s Association has invested $3.2 million into 14 projects looking at sex differences for the disease and some of the findings today may explain risk, prevalence, and rate of decline for women.” 

The longstanding opinion has been that women essentially have a longer than expected lifespan, and we understand that Alzheimer’s gets to be more prevalent as age increases. Yet the idea has shifted to incorporate the following additional determinants:

  • Biology. Vanderbilt University Medical Center researchers found that women with mild cognitive impairment had a far more accelerated spread of tau (the protein within the brain related to loss of brain cells), along with a greater extent of tau network connectivity, than that of males.
  • Memory. A study conducted by the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine reported higher scores on verbal memory tests in females than males, which might indicate the ability of women’s brains to compensate for cognitive impairments and to the postponement of a diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
  • Employment. Memory decrease in females ages 60 – 70 who seldom were employed was more significant than in females with continuous employment, according to the results of research done by the University of California Los Angeles – indicating that "consistent cognitive stimulation from work helps increase cognitive reserve in women.” 
  • Lifestyle. Seeing that a healthy lifestyle, including a lower frequency of stress, helps decrease Alzheimer’s risk, women are particularly vulnerable – as they are typically in the role of family caregiver, a known inducer of stress. 

All of these findings illustrate the necessity for women to take care of their own health and wellbeing, and Amy’s Helping Hands, the Windsor-Essex home care leader, is prepared to assist. We provide the reliable respite care that enables family caregivers to take much needed breaks from caring for their loved ones and focus on self-care. Our caregivers are highly trained and experienced in meeting the unique needs of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, providing families with the peace of mind in knowing their senior loved ones are benefiting from the highest quality care. Contact us at 519.915.4370 for more information.