Women are more likely to develop Alzheimer's than men, and a majority of caretakers are women, according to a new report from the Alzheimer's Association.
In the United States, nearly 13 million women are either living with or caring for someone with Alzheimer's.
Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and the fifth leading cause of death for women, and new figures from the association show a woman's risk for getting the disease is 1 in 6, compared to 1 in 11 for men.
The fact that women live longer than men is a factor, according to Angela Geiger, chief strategy officer for the Alzheimer's Association. But, she said, more research and funding are needed to figure out why women are disproportionately affected.
“Women in their 60s are actually twice as likely over the course of their life to develop Alzheimer's disease as they are breast cancer,” said Dr. Maria Carrillo of the Alzheimer's Association.
The new figures are an update to statistics gathered from “The Shriver Report: A Woman's Nation Takes On Alzheimer's,” done in 2010 in conjunction with Maria Shriver.
While more women develop Alzheimer's than men, they also are caregivers 60 percent of the time, which takes a physical, emotional and financial toll.
Some of caregiver findings Geiger shared during a recent conference call:
• 20 percent of women vs. 3 percent of men dropped from full-time to part-time work.
• 18 percent of women vs. 11 percent of men took a leave of absence.
• 11 percent of women vs. 5 percent of men quit working.
• 10 percent of women vs. 5 percent of men lost job benefits.
To enlist more women in the fight against Alzheimer's, the association has launched a campaign called “My Brain Matters.” It is centered around getting funding and increasing awareness of the disease. Public concern has increased significantly over the years, Geiger said, but starting a national conversation could turn into more research dollars and possibly a cure.
As part of the campaign, the association aims to have 1 million women visit alz.org/mybrain to write, in 130 characters or less, what makes their brains unique.