Of the 5.8 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s today, two thirds are women. And among dementia caregivers, approximately two-thirds are women — one in three is a daughter caring for their parent.
Ten years ago, the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement (WAM), the Alzheimer’s Association and AARP collaborated on the first effort to cast a spotlight on the extraordinary physical, social and financial burden that women carry for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. But in the past decade, doctors, scientists and policy makers are still no closer to answers.
Now, a new report — “It’s Time to Act: The Challenges of Alzheimer’s and Dementia for Women” — compiled by AARP and WAM synthesizes a decade of lessons to help explain why women are disproportionately affected by Alzheimer’s disease, and to lay out a path toward a better future.
“We recognize that we can’t simply sit back and wait for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia,” said AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins. “We need to work to reduce risk, improve care and help people keep their brains healthy while they age. But no one organization or researcher can do it alone. We need to tap into everyone’s strengths and also make a call for women to take ownership of their own brain health.”
AARP’s Joe Ann Jenkins and WAM’s Marie Shriver discuss findings
and recommendations from “It’s Time to Act,” May 21, 2020
AARP and WAM worked together to convene 75 dementia researchers, advocates and policy experts to examine the current state of research, identify gaps in knowledge, and to forge a way forward with a strategic plan for both science and policy. This group will collaborate to drive change for women and dementia over the next decade.
Central to the report, a five-point strategic plan details a global strategy to help women and families contending with Alzheimer’s and dementia — regardless of income, ethnicity, education or cultural background.
A Five-Point Strategic Plan to Advance Research and
Support for Women Affected by Alzheimer’s
- Eliminate the stigma of dementia. Stigma stands in the way of diagnosis and quality care for this serious, public health problem.
- Empower women to stay brain healthy. Science has shown that we can all do a great deal to promote our own brain health.
- Ensure that research is inclusive. Researchers must learn why dementia affects so many women and underserved communities, and they should report such data in their findings.
- Support family caregivers. All family caregivers should have access to training and local services that help them perform their duties. They should have paid leave and health care benefits.
- Improve medical training for dementia. Health care providers must do a better job of addressing, spotting and treating cognitive decline in older women.
The report’s collaborators include directors, researchers and care providers from the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health, the Center for Innovation in Brain Science at the University of Arizona Health Sciences, the Alzheimer’s Society, United Kingdom, the Women’s Brain Initiative, the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging and elsewhere.
They hope the plan will provide the community actionable steps into a decade of meaningful change.
Read the full report here.