Women Bear Heaviest Burden of Alzheimer's Worldwide, New Survey Shows

A new survey presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2011 (AAIC) in Paris and administered by the Harvard School of Public Health, showed the disproportionate impact that Alzheimer’s Disease has on women in five countries — France, Germany, Spain, Poland and the United States — and highlighted some of the different perspectives women have about the disease compared to men.

The results of the survey were presented in a panel discussion on “Women and Alzheimer’s: A Global Perspective” at the AAIC, and were summarized in a press release issued by the AAIC. The 2011 AAIC took place in Paris, France from July 16 through July 21, 2011.

The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that 36.5 million people worldwide are living with dementia. “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, according to the AAIC’s release.

As reported in the release, the new data from the five-country survey revealed that:

  • “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.”

These statistics were reported and discussed in an expert panel on “Women and Alzheimer’s: A Global Perspective” at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) in Paris. The panel included:

  • 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

Ms. Geiger noted that, “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,” concluded Ms. Geiger.

“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,” said Pascale Witz, president and CEO for GE Healthcare’s Medical Diagnostics business.”

The panel discussion was sponsored by GE Healthcare, which provides medical imaging and information technologies, medical diagnostics, patient monitoring systems, drug discovery, biopharmaceutical manufacturing technologies, and other medical technology and services.

The Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) is the world’s largest conference bringing together researchers worldwide to report and discuss research and information on the cause, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders.

The Alzheimer’s Association is a nonprofit organization, which indicates that it is “the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research.” The Association’s mission is “to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research, to provide and enhance care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health,” and “[its] vision is a world without Alzheimer’s.”

More Information

The original survey report, “The Value of Knowing,” along with a PowerPoint presentation of the findings, is available from the Alzheimer’s Association Europe.

The press release of the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (2011) (AAIC) in Paris on the survey as reported at the panel discussion on “Women and Alzheimer’s: A Global Perspective” is available on the AAIC’s website.

See also, Taking Care of Alzheimer’s: the Burden on Women, report by ABC News with Maria Shriver, October 19, 2010, at the time of the release of the Shriver Report on Alzheimer’s.

Visit the Alzheimer’s Association at: www.alz.org.

For more information on Alzheimer’s and dementia, see HelpingYouCare™‘s resource pages on Alzheimer’s/ Dementia, including:

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Copyright © 2011 Care-Help LLC, publisher of HelpingYouCare™.

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