As young people, it's easy to view Alzheimer's disease as something that doesn't affect us all that much. We feel like we've got a long way to go before we hit the age when memory-loss and dementia become potential threats. Hopefully, that's true — but chances are, Alzheimer's disease will affect someone you know in your lifetime, and it's important to educate yourself about it.
Last year, it was reported that more than five million Americans are currently suffering from Alzheimer's disease. It's estimated that about 500,000 people a year die from it, and the numbers will only continue to rise, with some experts estimating that 35 million folks will be suffer from Alzheimer's over the next few decades. These are scary statistics, made even scarier by the fact that most of these people struggle to afford the healthcare and medication they need to lead a healthy, normal life.
As much as Alzheimer's is a problem that affects everyone, there is no denying that women are affected by the disease differently than men, and often in more devastating ways. No matter how old we are today, it's never too early start educating ourselves about this health issue. That way, we can take better care of our loved ones and even help prevent ourselves from being diagnosed.
Here are seven facts about Alzheimer's disease every woman should know.
1. More Women Are Diagnosed With Alzheimer's Than Men
2. Alzheimer's Worsens Faster In Women Than Men
Scientists have found through MRI scans that there is "more rapid shrinkage of cells of certain brain areas" in women than in men who have Alzheimer's. Why exactly this is the case is something that the experts are working on finding out, but they think it too has something to do with the relationship between genetics and hormones. With what they've found out so far, though, they can say with certainty that the disease worsens at a more alarming rate in women.
3. Women Are More Likely To Take Care Of Alzheimer's Patients Than Men Are
4. Alcohol-Related Diseases Are Sometimes Misdiagnosed As Alzheimer's
Reports show that there are more individuals over the age of 60 than ever before who are being diagnosed with alcohol-related brain damage called Korsakoff Syndrome, which is similar to dementia. Dr. Tony Rao, a consultant psychiatrist at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, told the Guardian that the memory problems tied to heavy drinking often either go unnoticed by medical professionals or are mistaken for Alzheimer's disease.
It's an issue that needs a closer look, as the older population drinks way more alcohol than you would imagine — especially women. Twenty-two percent of women between ages 65-74 drink more than the normal weekly intake; out of all the demographics of women, this particular group drinks the most heavily.
If you have a family member or loved one whose doctor is suggesting that they may have Alzheimer's, double check and make sure that the true problem isn't an alcohol-related memory issue. While having a moderate amount of alcohol can help prevent Alzheimer's, you don't want to see someone get misdiagnosed for this disease when it's actually something entirely different.
5. Eating Berries Might Help Protect You
6. Sleeping On Your Side Might Also Prevent The Disease
An anesthesiologist at Stony Brook University, Helene Benveniste, led a team of researchers to find that snoozing on your side, rather than your tummy or back, could ward off neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Although the studies were performed on rats rather than humans, the findings were pretty clear.
The glymphatic pathway is a part of the body that flushes out waste products from the brain by moving around used fluid. This pathway does its job a lot better when you're sleeping on your side than any other position; and you want this component of your brain to function properly because it gets rid of the accumulation of proteins, which is precisely what leads to Alzheimer's disease. Hey, couldn't hurt.
7. There Have Been A Lot Of Promises About Funding Research, But We Need More
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