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Get the Facts


Submitted by the Central Illinois Alzheimer’s Chapter

The Alzheimer’s Association reports that women in their 60s are about twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease over the rest of their lives as they are breast cancer.

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 — this according to the Alzheimer’s Association 2014 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report. As real a concern as breast cancer is to women’s health, women in their 60s are about twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s over the rest of their lives as they are to develop breast cancer.*

Adding to women’s Alzheimer’s burden, there are 2.5 times as many women than men providing intensive “on-duty” 24-hour care for someone living with Alzheimer’s disease. Among caregivers who feel isolated, women are much more likely than men to link isolation with feeling depressed (17 percent of women versus 2 percent of men).

The strain of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is also felt in the workplace. Among caregivers who have been employed while they were also caregiving:

  • 20 percent of women versus 3 percent of men went from working full time to working part-time while acting as a caregiver.
  • 18 percent of women versus 11 percent of men took a leave of absence
  • 11 percent of women versus 5 percent of men gave up work entirely
  • 10 percent of women versus 5 percent of men lost job benefits

Human and Financial Toll of Alzheimer’s

There are more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease, including 210,000 here in Illinois, but Alzheimer’s has far reaching effects that can plague entire families. There are more than 587,000 Alzheimer’s caregivers in Illinois providing 668 million hours of unpaid care valued at $8.3 billion.

The total national cost of caring for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is projected to reach $214 billion this year. In 2014, 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.

Age is the greatest factor for Alzheimer’s disease, and as the baby boomers age, the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease is projected to soar to as many as 16 million in 2050, at a cost of $1.2 trillion (in current dollars) to the nation.

Know the 10 Signs
Early Detection Matters

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks
  4. Confusion with time or place
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  8. Decreased or poor judgment
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
  10. Changes in mood and personality

If you or someone you care about is experiencing any of these warning signs, please see a doctor.

“We have seen diseases like breast cancer, heart disease, and HIV/AIDS make tremendous progress in prevention, early detection, and treatment after the federal government made a significant investment,” says Central Illinois Chapter Executive Director, Nikki Vulgaris-Rodriguez. “Comparable investments in Alzheimer’s are now needed to realize the same successes and save millions of lives and billions of dollars.”

Lack of Understanding of the Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, yet it is still widely misunderstood and under reported. Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of both men and women agree with the mistaken belief that Alzheimer’s must run in their family for them to be at risk. Everyone with a brain — male or female, family history or not — is at risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

In 2010, the Alzheimer’s Association in partnership with Maria Shriver and The Shriver Report conducted a groundbreaking poll with the goal of exploring the compelling connection between Alzheimer’s disease and women. Data from that poll were published in The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Takes on Alzheimer’s. That report revealed not only the striking impact of the disease on individual lives, but also its especially strong effects on women — women living with the disease, as well as women who are caregivers, relatives, friends, and loved ones of those directly affected.

The Alzheimer’s Association is the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support, and research. Our 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. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s. To learn more, visit www.alz.org. For local help or further questions, please call 309-681-1100.

*Breast cancer data: http://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2010/results_single/sect_04_table.18.pdf

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