Alarming Impact of Alzheimer’s Disease on Women
05 Sep, 2012
Written By: Alexandra Dillon
Alzheimer’s disease has now reached epidemic proportions. It is the sixth leading cause of death, one in eight people over age 65 have Alzheimer’s and after age 85 one in two people have Alzheimer’s. From 2000 to 2008 Alzheimer’s deaths increased 66 percent while other causes of death (breast cancer, heart disease, HIV, stroke) all dropped.
If you are reading this you are probably a woman. As a woman you are more likely to get Alzheimer’s disease and very likely to be the care provider of someone with Alzheimer’s disease. Working Mother Research Institute recently released a national study, Women and Alzheimer’s Disease: The Caregiver’s Crisis. This study was sponsored by GE and the Alzheimer’s Association was a knowledge partner. For the complete study, click here.
Given the dramatic rise in Alzheimer’s disease the study poses the question who won’t be a care provider? Over 70% of people with Alzheimer’s disease live at home during the course of the disease. According to the Working Mother study here is who usually takes care of them:
She is a woman, between the ages of 50 and 59, married, a mother (usually with children under 18 still at home), college educated, employed (mean annual income of $43,500), attending to patients with mid- to late-stage disease, most often women, providing this care in her own home or the patients, assisting at least 30 hours per week and has been providing help for three or more years.
The impact on this care giver is tremendous. More than half of the study participants have to adjust their work schedules to meet caregiving demands and 39 percent have turned down promotions. Unfortunately elder care receives less human resources attention and is often among the first places companies trim benefits, according to this study.
What can be done? Be encouraged that our congress unanimously passed the National Alzheimer’s Project Act and released our first National Alzheimer’s Plan in May of this year. Review the complete plan here.
Become an advocate and lobby for more research dollars here. Read Women and Alzheimer’s Disease: the Caregiver’s Crisis to understand what may be ahead for you or someone you love. Learn the warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease and start a conversation with your physician or your loved ones physician if you have any concerns. If you want to get involved locally or have questions or concerns contact the Alzheimer’s Association Helpline at 1.800.272.3900.