Did you know that women are almost twice as likely as men to develop Alzheimer’s? In fact, nearly two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women.
A major reason for this discrepancy is the fact that women tend to live longer. However, there are some other factors too. For example, the decline in estrogen that comes with menopause affects memory centers in the brain that also play a role in Alzheimer’s.
On top of that, brain scans show that neurons die at a faster rate among female patients with dementia. This may explain why women tend to decline more quickly than men after being diagnosed.
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but there are many things you can do to lower your risk or cope with your symptoms. Use these suggestions to protect you and your loved ones.
Living With Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. It’s a brain disorder that interferes with your ability to think, remember, and perform routine tasks. The symptoms usually grow more severe over time, but you can take steps to make daily life easier.
Try these strategies:
- Monitor forgetfulness. Many older adults wonder how to distinguish between ordinary forgetfulness and early signs of dementia. In general, watch for lapses that become more severe and frequent.
- Modify your home. There are many simple changes that can make your house safer. For example, turn up lights and remove area rugs to prevent falls. Create a designated area for keys and eyeglasses.
- Take notes. Post friendly reminders to yourself. Label your bathroom door and hang a bulletin board where you can keep your to-do list visible with medication times and other important items.
- Treat related conditions. Dementia can make you more vulnerable to other ailments. Talk with your doctor about urinary tract infections, bed sores, and delirium.
- Arrange care. Your loved ones will probably need help too. Websites like Alzheimers.gov can help you discuss your needs and locate resources and services in your community.
Lowering Your Risk for Alzheimer’s
Most experts believe that there is no proven way to prevent Alzheimer’s. However, you can reduce some risk factors by taking care of your brain and heart.
These techniques may reduce your risk:
- Exercise regularly. Working out has mental and physical health benefits. Create a balanced program that will strengthen your heart, build your muscles, and relieve stress.
- Eat healthy. Fight inflammation by sticking to a diet rich in whole foods rather than heavily processed products. You might be surprised by how many delicious choices you can still enjoy, including olive oil, fish, and dark chocolate.
- Stay connected. Feeling isolated can undermine your wellbeing. Spend time with family and friends. Share moral support and fun activities.
- Continue learning. Stimulate your mind. Take courses online or attend classes at a local community college. Get a library card, so you can read books, and check the calendar for free computer training and other educational programs.
- Quit smoking. You’re 40% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s if you use tobacco. Choose a date to quit and try a variety of methods, like nicotine replacement devices and support groups.
- Drink responsibly. Heavy alcohol consumption may damage your brain and impair your memory. If you drink, limit yourself to one or two servings at a time. Take days off from alcohol each week.
- Check your hearing. A study at Johns Hopkins University found that even mild hearing loss doubles the risk of dementia. Avoid loud noises and get your ears checked each year if you’re over 60.
Alzheimer’s currently affects more than 6 million Americans, and those numbers are expected to double by 2050. While being a woman increases your risk, a healthy lifestyle and regular medical care can help protect your wellbeing as you age.