Alzheimer’s disease is a women’s issue – but you can help

Pamela Myers, MAOM, BSN, RN

        Women are at the epicenter of the Alzheimer’s crisis. Not only are they more likely than men to be caregivers, women are also more likely to develop the disease. As we take some time in November to honor our dementia caregivers, here are some hard facts about women and Alzheimer’s disease:
        • About 13 million American women are either living with Alzheimer’s or caring for someone who has it.
        • Women take on more caregiving tasks than their male counterparts – and care for people with more cognitive, functional, and/or behavioral problems.
        • Nearly 19% of women Alzheimer’s caregivers had to quit work, either to become a caregiver or because their caregiving duties became too burdensome.
        • More than 60% of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers are women – more specifically, over one-third of dementia caregivers are daughters.
        • Caregivers who are women may experience higher levels of burden, depression and impaired health than men.
        • Women caregivers are also more likely than men to indicate a need for individual counseling, respite care and support groups.
        Providing help and support to caregivers can be easier than most people think. Even little acts can make a big difference. The Alzheimer’s Association Chapter offers these suggestions:
        • Build a team: Organize family and friends who want to help with caregiving. The Alzheimer’s Association offers links to several free, online care calendar resources that families can use to build their care team, share tasks and coordinate helpers.
        • Give caregivers a break: Make a standing appointment to give the caregiver a break. Spend time with the person living with dementia and allow the caregiver a chance to run errands, go to their own doctor’s appointment, participate in a support group or engage in an activity that helps them recharge. Even one hour could make a big difference in providing the caregiver some relief.
        • Check in: Many Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers report feeling isolated or alone. So, start the conversation – a phone call to check in, sending a note, or stopping by for a visit can make a big difference in a caregiver’s day and help them feel supported.
        • Tackle the to-do list: Ask for a list of errands that need to be run – such as picking up groceries or prescriptions. Offer to do yard work or other household chores. It can be hard for a caregiver to find time to complete these simple tasks that we often take for granted.
        The Alzheimer’s Association works to address the global Alzheimer’s disease crisis by providing education and support to the millions who face dementia every day, while advancing critical research toward methods of treatment, prevention and, ultimately, a cure. Call the local Northwest Ohio Chapter at 419-537-1999 for help, resources and upcoming programs.
        Pamela Myers is a program manager at the Alzheimer’s Association, Northwest Ohio Chapter. Visit or call 800-272-3900 for more information about Alzheimer’s Association programs and services.


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