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Intermountain Alzheimer’s surge will challenge women

First Published Mar 20 2014 09:50AM      Last Updated Apr 20 2014 04:00 pm

The Intermountain West can expect big surges in the percentage of residents over age 65 with Alzheimer’s disease — and a new report says women face the greatest impact.

A woman in her 60s faces a 1 in 6 chance of developing Alzheimer’s, according to 2014 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, released Wednesday. Her breast cancer risk is 1 in 11.

Almost two-thirds of the Americans with Alzheimer’s today are women.

And there are 2.5 times more women than men caring around the clock for someone with Alzheimer’s, the Alzheimer’s Association report says.

READ MORE: New Utah data predicts Alzheimer’s boom

The fact that women live longer is a clear risk factor, Angela Geiger, the association’s chief strategy officer, told reporters in a conference call. But researchers don’t yet know whether different brain structures or hormones also make women more vulnerable, she said, one of the reasons more federal funding is needed.

And too many Americans wrongly believe they aren’t at risk if the disease doesn’t run in their family, she said.

"If you have a brain, you should be worried about Alzheimer’s disease," she said.

READ MORE: Protein May Hold the Key to Who Gets Alzheimer’s

The new figures are seen as an update to The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Takes on Alzheimer’s in 2010, done in conjunction with Maria Shriver, Geiger said.

Among caregivers, it found:

• 20 percent of women vs. 3 percent of men dropped from full-time to part-time work.

• 18 percent of women vs. 11 percent of men took a leave of absence.

• 11 percent of women vs. 5 percent of men quit working.

• 10 percent of women vs. 5 percent of men lost job benefits.

To enlist more women in the fight against Alzheimer’s, the association aims to have 1 million women visit alz.org/mybrain to write, in 130 characters or less, what makes their brains unique.

Utah leads five states in the Intermountain region that may double the Alzheimer’s prevalence seen in 2000, according to the association. From 2000 to 2025, Utah is expected to see a 127 percent increase in the number of residents over age 65 with Alzheimer’s.

However, the number of such seniors in Utah by 2025 — estimated at 50,000 — is dwarfed by higher-population states.



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