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Why Alzheimer’s Affects Women Worse than Men

By April 26, 2016Archives
Grandma and grandaughter together hugging and laughing

It is safe to assume that many women who are elderly today played traditional roles in the raising of their families. That is why it seems especially cruel that women are more severely affected by Alzheimer’s Disease than men – the very disease that will steal memories of their families. Recent studies show that women with some form of dementia experience a more dramatic decline of their cognitive abilities than men at the same stage of the disease. The same studies show that women lose language skills and memory sooner than men.

There are several theories about why Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia have a more severe impact on women. One is that it is caused by the drop in estrogen levels experienced by women after menopause. Another theory claims that because men historically worked for a longer period of time – true only for the current generation of elderly – their brains were active longer in the ways that can delay dementia. Researchers call this a “greater cognitive reserve.”

This will change with future generations, as men and women tend to work for the same number of years. Other theories include the role played by a gene linked to Alzheimer’s. All of these findings will help researchers to better understand the risk factors, causes of disease progression and effective treatments for dementia.

For researchers, having several theories with which to study Alzheimer’s is like having a great menu from which to select dinner. The reason: genetics are easier to screen to detect a predisposition to dementia. Cognitive reserve can be increased with more, and better, brain activity. Physical causes, such as estrogen levels, can be addressed by the medical community. This means that the more that researchers know about the role of gender in the onset and progression of dementia, the better they can treat the disease.

Regardless of the gender of the dementia patient, several things remain true; physical and mental activity improves a senior’s health and can stave off dementia. Physical exercise pumps blood and oxygen through the organs and into the brain. Learning new tasks that must be repeated daily keep the brain at functioning at a high level. A diet that includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and protein, and little or no processed foods can help to prevent plaque from clogging the brain. These are the things that we know currently, and that can be employed to help delay the onset of dementia.

The professionals at LivHOME help to keep seniors active. Our companionship program provides caring, trained professionals to spend time with seniors at home, running errands or going to doctor’s appointments. LivHOME professionals provide peace of mind to families and friends who want to know that their loved senior has access to constructive activities and avoids isolation.

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