Jul 18, 2011

Women at the Center of the Global Alzheimer's Epidemic

Women fear Alzheimer's more than men do.

Alzheimer's Reading Room

Today the Alzheimer's Association® in conjunction with GE Healthcare held a "Women and Alzheimer's: A Global Perspective" panel discussion during the Alzheimer's Association International Conference 2011 (AAIC).

The event brought together leaders in the Alzheimer's field and revealed new data from "The Value of Knowing Survey" (Survey) commissioned by Alzheimer's Europe and administered by Harvard School of Public Health.

The findings explored the impact of Alzheimer's disease on women and highlighted some of the different perspectives women have about the disease compared to men in France, Germany, Spain, Poland and the United States.

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Women at the Center of the Global Alzheimer's Epidemic

36.5 million people worldwide are estimated to be living with dementia. The new data from the multi-country survey revealed:

  • In all countries women were more fearful of getting Alzheimer's compared to other diseases, second only to cancer and women in France were 15 percent more afraid of developing Alzheimer's than their male counterparts.
  • Likewise, women in all five countries were more concerned than men about a loved one developing Alzheimer's.
  • Almost 60 percent of women in the United States and nearly 50 percent of women in France were aware that Alzheimer's is a progressive and fatal disease.
  • Women in all countries, the highest being 90 percent of women in Spain, believed that government spending on Alzheimer's research should be increased, the lowest being nearly 70 percent of women in Germany.
  • Women in all countries were more likely than their male counterparts to be involved in day-to-day care. In Poland there was more than a 10 percent differential.
  • In addition to providing the day-to-day care, women in France and Poland were significantly more involved in the decision-making and financial support of the person living with Alzheimer's disease.
  • Should men or women develop Alzheimer's, the largest percentage of respondents identified their spouse as the person who would be responsible for their primary care, with men identifying their wives 6-18 percent more often than wives identifying their husbands. In Spain there was an 18 percent difference. Also of interest was that women were more likely to rely on children or paid caregivers outside the family than men.
  • Despite the fear of the disease and the fact that women are more often caregivers, women in France and the United States appear to be more optimistic that an effective treatment for Alzheimer's will be developed in the next five years, 71 and 76 percent respectively.

"With statistics consistently pointing to the fact that more women are living with Alzheimer's and caring for people with Alzheimer's, it is clear women are disproportionately affected by this disease," said Angela Geiger, Chief Strategy Officer of the Alzheimer's Association.

"These insights reinforce the conclusions published in The Shriver Report: A Women's Nation Takes on Alzheimer's which found the impact of Alzheimer's on women is significant. The perspectives we see in this survey must prompt thoughtful conversations about Alzheimer's with our friends, family members and government officials to change the trajectory of Alzheimer's disease."

"The data pointing to the number of people living with Alzheimer's and the impact on those providing care is enormous, translating into overwhelming human and financial costs," Pascale Witz, president and CEO for GE Healthcare's Medical Diagnostics business.

"At GE Healthcare we are driving innovation in the industry by focusing our efforts in Alzheimer's disease on earlier diagnosis, with research into new imaging compounds, new technologies and biomarkers. With early diagnosis comes earlier treatment and the potential for delays in disease progression."

Bringing this conversation to life during the Alzheimer's Association's "Women and Alzheimer's: A Global Perspective" panel discussion sponsored by GE Healthcare, an expert panel shared their unique perspective about the dramatic impact of Alzheimer's on women including:

  • Angela Geiger, Chief Strategy Officer, Alzheimer's Association, Chicago, IL, USA
  • Lynda Hogg, Alzheimer's Disease International Board of Directors, Alzheimer Scotland Council and person living with Alzheimer's disease, Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, National Board of Directors, Alzheimer's Association, New York NY, USA
  • Dr. Miia Kivipelto, Aging Research Center at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Dr. Nancy Snyderman, Chief Medical Correspondent, NBC, New York, NY, USA
  • Pascale Witz, President and Chief Executive Officer, GE Healthcare Medical Diagnostics, Amersham, UK

More Insight and Advice for Caregivers

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room