ADI Reports on the Impact of Dementia on Women

Ana de Barros, PhD avatar

by Ana de Barros, PhD |

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In a recent report published by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), titled “Women and Dementia: A global research overview,” researchers reported on key findings regarding the main topics affecting women in relation to dementia from an international viewpoint.

In the report, the ADI examined the gender effect in women living with dementia; women caring for people with dementia in a professional caring role; and women undertaking an informal caregiving role for someone with dementia.

The researchers also focused their efforts on the factors affecting women in low and middle income countries (LMICs); family structures and kinship; and the effects of migration.

Results from the report showed that women are more likely than men to be affected by dementia, that the majority of people with dementia and those at risk of developing are women, and that women account for the majority of caregivers and health professionals in treating dementia.

According to the report, 71% of the 135 million people with dementia will live in low and middle income countries (LMICs) by 2050. The results showed that these people are likely to the cared by a female.

Specifically the report notes that:

  • Worldwide dementia disproportionately affects women;
  • More women than men have dementia; also more women are at risk to develop the condition and the symptoms are more severe for women than for men;
  • Women are usually the caregivers for people suffering with dementia in hospitals and at homes, and this is even more real in LMICs;

According to the ADI, there is little research focusing on the gender issues of living with, or caring for, someone with dementia and on the longterm impact of dementia on women as family and formal caregivers.

Dementia is a brain disease characterized by loss of memory, speech, reasoning, and other cognitive functions; Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form likely accounting for 70 percent of all cases. The onset of dementia is devastating for individuals and their families, profoundly affecting the quality of life and taking a severe economic toll.

While dementia affects people worldwide, more than half (58 percent) are living in low- and middle-income countries. By 2050, this share is expected to rise to more than 70 percent. Dementia tends to be “absent from or low on the health agendas” of developing countries, according to WHO. Worldwide, only eight countries currently have national programs in place to address dementia, underscoring the need for more initiatives to address the epidemic.