More than six million Americans are living with Alzheimer's and the majority are women. According to the Alzheimer's Association, an average of 3.8 million U.S. women are battling the fatal disease and could be at higher risk due to "biological or genetic variations or differences in life experiences." Eat This, Not Talk talked to experts about the signs of Alzhimer's usually ignored by women and how to help prevent it. Read below for six tips about the disease from Alzhimer's specialists—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Alzheimer's is a disease that affects one's thinking, behavior and memory, which is one of the "most common initial symptoms of Alzheimer's dementia," says Dr. Parham Yashar, MD FACS FAANS Board Certified Neurosurgeon at Dignity Health Northridge Hospital, "The type of memory is what's characteristic of Alzheimer's–it's what we refer to as Declarative episodic memory or memory of specific events, and the place and time of their occurrence."
Other Warning Signs Of Alzheimer's
While people typically associate memory loss with Alzheimer's, there's other key symptoms to watch out for. Margaret Barron/Executive Director of the Alzheimer's Association California Southland Chapter and Regional 3 Leader for the Alzheimer's Association explains. "People know one of the most common signs of Alzheimer's is memory loss, but there are other warning signs to look for, including judgment, mood, and executive functioning. For example, if you see a family member struggling with day-to-day tasks they used to do easily, like making a familiar recipe. Difficulty with words—getting lost mid-conversation and finding it hard to get back on track—is also common. Misplacing items and being unable to trace their steps to recall where they were is another sign. Finally, withdrawing from social gatherings and activities someone used to enjoy can be a red flag."
She continues, "Some memory changes can be a normal part of the aging process, but when changes start to interfere with daily living or stray drastically from the person's normal behavior, it is best to get it checked. Some forms of cognitive decline are treatable, but even if it's something more serious, getting a proper diagnosis will allow you to manage the condition optimally."
Dr. Parham Yashar, MD FACS FAANS Board Certified Neurosurgeon at Dignity Health Northridge Hospital, adds, "With increasing Alzheimer's disease, there is also a reduction into one's insight of their memory and cognitive deficits. They may offer explanations or alibis in order to explain their deficits when they're pointed out. Some patients have noted symptoms such as a difficulty or loss of sense of smell and taste. Sleep disturbances can also occur such as spending more time sleeping or experiencing more fragmented sleep (periods of waking in between sleep) compared to those patients without Alzheimer's."
Why Alzheimer's Affects Women More Than Men
It's clear that more women than men are living with Alzheimer's and Margaret Barron/Executive Director of the Alzheimer's Association California Southland Chapter and Regional 3 Leader for the Alzheimer's Association says, "More women than men have Alzheimer's or other dementias. Almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer's are women. Of the 6.2 million people aged 65 or older with Alzheimer's in the United States, 3.8 million are women and 2.4 million are men. There are a number of potential biological and social reasons why more women than men have Alzheimer's or other dementias. The prevailing view has been that this discrepancy is because women live longer than men on average, and older age is the greatest risk factor for However, limited research suggests that the risk for developing Alzheimer's could be greater for women potentially due to biological or genetic variations or even different life experiences, such as the type and amount of education, occupational attainment or health behaviors."
What Preventive Measures Can Women Take
While there isn't a cure for Alzheimer's, there are things we can do to help try to prevent the disease says, Margaret Barron/Executive Director of the Alzheimer's Association California Southland Chapter and Regional 3 Leader for the Alzheimer's Association "Research is still evolving, but evidence is strong that people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline — a precursor to Alzheimer's — by making key lifestyle changes, including participating in regular physical activity, staying socially engaged, and maintaining good heart health."
What To Know About Women Caregivers of Alzheimer's
Not only do more women live with Alzheimer's than men, they often take care of someone with the disease more than men. Margaret Barron/Executive Director of the Alzheimer's Association California Southland Chapter and Regional 3 Leader for the Alzheimer's Association explains, "Statistics show that the responsibilities of caring for someone with dementia often fall to women. More than three in five unpaid Alzheimer's caregivers are women. This affects multiple generations, as it is more common for wives to provide informal care for a husband than vice versa, and more than one-third of dementia caregivers are daughters. Women caregivers may experience higher levels of depression and impaired health than their male counterparts. Evidence suggests these differences arise because female caregivers tend to spend more time caregiving, to take on more caregiving tasks, and to care for someone with greater cognitive, functional and/or behavior problems."
It can be overwhelming to be told that you or a loved one has Alzheimer's, but there are resources available to help assist you. The Alzheimer's Association 24/7 Helpline (800.272.3900) is available around the clock, 365 days a year. Through this free service, specialists and master's-level clinicians offer confidential support and information to people living with dementia, caregivers, families and the public," Margaret Barron/Executive Director of the Alzheimer's Association California Southland Chapter and Regional 3 Leader for the Alzheimer's Association says. And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.