Alzheimer's disease may hit women harder than men in the coming decades, according to the latest report from the Alzheimer’s Association. The organization's figures show a woman’s lifetime risk of developing the condition is 1 in 6, compared with 1 in 11 for men.
More than 5 million Americans in total are now living with the neurodegenerative disease, per the report.
Women are also shouldering the responsibility for caring for parents affected by Alzheimer’s. More than twice as many women as men provide 24-hour care for a loved one with the disease, and twice as many women as men gave up working full time in order to do so.
Such unpaid care totals about $220 billion in lost wages and other care. Much of that cost is for helping patients to bathe, eat, dress and use the bathroom, rather than for treating the symptoms of dementia and memory loss, for which there are no effective therapies.
“We have to change that balance,” says Maria Carrillo, vice president for medical-and-scientific relations at the Alzheimer’s Association.
Here are some of the highlights from the group’s report:
- By 2050, 16 million people will be living with Alzheimer’s disease.
- African Americans are twice as likely as whites to develop Alzheimer’s.
- About one-third of seniors who die each year in the U.S. have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
- Women in their 60s are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s as they are to develop breast cancer over their lifetime.
- In 2013, Americans, mostly women, provided 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care to patients with Alzheimer’s.
- In 2014, Americans will spend $214 billion to care for patients with Alzheimer’s. In 2050, that amount will reach $1.2 trillion.
The full 2014 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report can be read here.