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New report sheds light on burden of Alzheimer’s on women

Thursday March 20, 2014
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A woman’s estimated lifetime risk of developing Alzheimer’s at age 65 is 1 in 6, compared with nearly 1 in 11 for a man, and women are about twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s over the rest of their lives as they are to develop breast cancer, according to a report by the Alzheimer’s Association.

Adding to the Alzheimer’s burden on women, there are 2.5 times as many women as men who provide intensive on-duty care around the clock for someone living with Alzheimer’s. Among caregivers who feel isolated, women are much more likely than men to link isolation with feeling depressed (17% of women, 2% of men).

Among caregivers who have been employed, 20% of women versus 3% of men went from working full-time to working part-time while acting as a caregiver; 18% of women versus 11% of men took a leave of absence; 11% of women versus 5% of men gave up work entirely; and 10% of women versus 5% of men lost job benefits.

Human and financial toll

There are more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease, according to the report, including 3.2 million women and 200,000 people under age 65 with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

There are 15.5 million caregivers providing 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care in the U.S., often to the detriment of their own health, according to the news release. The physical and emotional impact of dementia caregiving resulted in an estimated $9.3 billion in increased healthcare costs for Alzheimer’s caregivers in 2013.

The total national cost of caring for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is projected to reach $214 billion this year before factoring in unpaid caregiving by family and friends, which is valued at more than $220 billion. The cost to Medicare and Medicaid of caring for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias will reach a combined $150 billion, with Medicare spending nearly $1 in every $5 on people with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.

“These numbers are set to soar as the baby boomers continue to enter the age of greatest risk for Alzheimer’s disease,” according to the news release. “Unless something is done to change the course of the disease, there could be as many as 16 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s in 2050, at a cost of $1.2 trillion (in current dollars) to the nation. This dramatic rise includes a 500% increase in combined Medicare and Medicaid spending and a 400% increase in out-of-pocket spending.”

Lack of understanding

Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S., yet remains widely misunderstood and underreported, according to the news release. Nearly a quarter (24%) agree with the mistaken belief that Alzheimer’s must run in their family for them to be at risk. A third of Latinos and 45% of Asians agree with that incorrect statement.

“2014 Alzheimer’s Facts and Figures”: http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_facts_and_figures.asp


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