dementia
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A new UK study suggests that Alzheimer’s disease takes a greater toll on women than on men. In the study, women with Alzheimer’s typically see their cognitive abilities decline more dramatically than men who are at the same stage of the degenerative disease.

Alzheimer’s Disease is a form of dementia that affects more than 3 million individuals in the United States each year. Also known as senile dementia, Alzheimer’s is degenerative, resulting in the loss and death of brain cell connections and the cell themselves. Some of the main symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s are memory loss, confusion, and changes in mood and behavior. Often times, Alzheimer’s is misdiagnosed as depression. While it is possible to develop Alzheimer’s at an early age, the most common time to fall ill to the condition is at the age of 60 and up. All the same, people can develop Alzheimer’s as early as age 19.

Currently, Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. To boot, it is the only disease in the top 10 causes of death in the United States that cannot be slowed, prevented, or treated.

In both the UK and the United States, women make up two-thirds of the overall Alzheimer’s patients. Researchers at the University of Hertfordshire in the UK believe that the dramatic decrease in estrogen after menopause may affect how the disease continues to develop.

According to researchers, there are many factors that might play into these findings, including the cognitive effect of traditional gender roles and the influence of genetics.

“These need to be explored in greater depth so we can understand if there are ways we can address the particular needs and experiences of women with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia,“ said Dr. James Picket, who is head of researcher at the Alzheimer’s society.

And while Alzheimer’s disease and dementia have no cure, understanding how it affects men and women differently might help caregivers, senior care providers, and the elder care industry as a whole approach the care of these patients as they move forward after diagnosis.