BOUNTIFUL – The risk of a woman getting Alzheimer’s at age 65 is one in six compared to one in 11 for men.
In addition, 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.
That’s according to the just-released “2014 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and figures” report from the Alzheimer’s Association.
“Among those Americans over 65 with Alzheimer’s disease, nearly two-thirds (or 3.2 million) are women,” said Melissa Lee, Communications Director for the Alzheimer’s Association Utah Chapter.
In Utah, there are 28,000 people with Alzheimer’s. The impact goes far beyond that, she said. There are 140,000 Alzheimer’s caregivers in the state providing 159,000 hours of unpaid care. Were caregivers paid $10 an hour, that alone would equate to nearly $1.6 million.
Of those caregivers, there are 2.5 times as many women than men providing intensive “on-duty” care 24 hours-a-day, Lee said.
Among caregivers who feel isolated, women are much more likely than men to link isolation with feeling depressed, at 17 percent of women vs. 2 percent of men, she said.
The strain of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is also felt in the workplace. One-fifth of women and 3 percent of men went from working full-time to working part-time while acting as a caregiver.
Eighteen-percent of women took a leave of absence, compared to 11 percent of men. Beyond that, 11 percent of women compared to 5 percent of men gave up work entirely, and 10 percent of women vs. 5 percent of men lost job benefits, Lee said.
The number of people at risk for Alzheimer’s will continue to rise as more baby boomers age. By 2050, there could be as many as 16 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s, at a cost of $1.2 trillion to the nation.
Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., yet it is still widely misunderstood and underreported, Lee said.
Some 24 percent of men and women agree with the mistaken belief that Alzheimer’s must run in their family for them to be at risk, she said.
Davis County is one of few places in the state to operate an outreach of the Alzheimer’s Association. There is a branch office at the North Davis Senior Activity Center, 42 S. State in Clearfield. For more information, call 801-525-5057 or visit www.alz.org/utah.