Estimates show that by 2025, over 7 million people will be living with dementia. While dementia is a devastating condition for both men and women, women bear much of the burden of the disease. Because women are more likely to be directly affected by dementia, it’s important to learn about the disorder, about the impact of the disorder, and the disease itself.
The impact of dementia on women
The occurrence of dementia increases with age and as women typically have a longer lifespan than men, they are more likely to develop dementia. In fact, almost two-thirds of American seniors living with dementia are women.
Women are also more likely to be the caregivers for those with dementia. Close to 63 percent of dementia caregivers are female. Many of these caregivers are unpaid and consequently bear a financial burden. Additionally, the stress and demands of caregiving for a senior with dementia can affect women’s physical and mental well being. Often, female dementia caregivers feel isolated and even depressed.
Learning about dementia
Dementia causes cognitive changes or changes with thought processes. This may include memory loss, difficulty with communication, inability to plan, organize, or perform complex tasks an increased risk of disorientation. It may also include movement disorders such as lack of coordination or dizziness.
The disorder also includes psychological changes such as personality changes, inappropriate behavior, irritability, and an inability to reason. In later stages, dementia may cause paranoia, agitation, and hallucinations.
Dementia caused by medications or other medical conditions is often reversible but most cases of dementia are unfortunately irreversible and progressive. These include Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, or Lewy body dementia.
In cases where a medication or medical disorder can be identified, changing the medication or treating the disorder may alleviate the symptoms. In the case of progressive dementia, some medication management is available but in most cases, behavioral management and full-time care will eventually be needed.
Be cognizant of women who suffer from dementia or care for someone who suffers from dementia. It is a challenging disease to manage and those who are afflicted deserve all the support and attention possible.
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