Facts about Women and Alzheimer’s Disease

mothers-day-alzheimersWomen, mothers included, are at the epicenter of Alzheimer’s disease. In the United States, nearly two-thirds of the more than 5 million individuals with Alzheimer’s are women.

Alzheimer’s is as real of a concern to women as breast cancer. In her early sixties, a woman is about twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s over the course of her lifetime than she is likely to develop breast cancer – the risk for women developing Alzheimer’s is 1 in 6 while the risk for breast cancer it is 1 in 11.

Women are also more likely to be caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s or dementia and account for 60 percent of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers. More than one-third of these caregivers are the daughter of those they provide care for.

Because of caregiving duties and related stresses, women are more likely to experience adverse consequences in the workplace. Nearly 19 percent of women Alzheimer’s caregivers quit work either to become a caregiver or because their caregiving duties become too burdensome.

“Alzheimer’s places an unbalanced burden on women at work and at home, forcing them to make difficult choices about their careers, their relationships and their futures,” said Jeff Baldwin, marketing and communications director for the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Richmond Chapter. “These women are our moms, sisters, wives, daughters, grandmothers, friends, neighbors, and colleagues and the Alzheimer’s Association works hard every single day providing the support they need.”

Celebrating Mothers

How families affected by Alzheimer’s choose to celebrate Mother’s Day depends on the person living with Alzheimer’s and the family’s unique situation. Mother’s Day can be a meaningful and enjoyable occasion but planning will take more thought and each family should take their unique circumstances into consideration. With that in mind, the Alzheimer’s Association offers these tips for celebrating when mom has the disease:

Take a person-centered approach

Focus on what is enjoyable for the person with Alzheimer’s, such as looking at family pictures or serving/ordering in the person’s favorite food. Consider what would be more meaningful to the person. If they get overwhelmed in large groups, a small quiet gathering may be preferable.

Keep it simple

Consider a celebration over a lunch or brunch. Ask family/friends to bring dishes for a potluck meal or have food delivered by a local restaurant or grocery store.

Don’t overdo it

Depending on the person’s stamina, plan time for breaks so the person can rest in a quiet area away from noise and crowds.

Educate yourself/find support

Learn more about the stages and symptoms of Alzheimer’s in the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiver Center at alz.org/care. There you can also find tips on planning holidays for families living with Alzheimer’s, join the ALZConnected online community, and find more information about your local Alzheimer’s Association chapter services and programs.