Alzheimer’s Strikes Women Harder Than Men: Report
… and those over 60 twice as likely to get the brain disease than breast cancer!
This article first appeared in HealthDay in March 2014 and written by their reporter Robert Preidt. Notes from me appear in italics in the story.
A 65-year-old American woman has a 1 in 6 chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life, while a man the same age has about a 1 in 11 chance. That’s one of the key findings of a new report that highlights the heavy toll that Alzheimer’s takes on women as both patients and caregivers.
Women in their 60s are also twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s than breast cancer, according to the report — “2014 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures” — from the Alzheimer’s Association.
The report also found that there are 2.5 times more women than men providing 24-hour care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. Women caregivers are also more likely than men to switch from full-time to part-time work (20 percent versus 3 percent), more likely to take a leave of absence (18 percent versus 11 percent), and to stop working (11 percent versus 5 percent) to meet the needs of a loved one with the disease.
“Women are the epicenter of Alzheimer’s disease, representing [the] majority of both people with the disease and Alzheimer’s caregivers,” Angela Geiger, chief strategy officer of the Alzheimer’s Association, said in a prepared statement from the group.
Of the more than 5 million Americans with Alzheimer’s, 3.2 million are women, according to the report.
“I see this with Long Term Care Insurance claims. The impact on women, either being the caregiver for a husband or partner or being the person being cared for, is huge for families. Many times, by the time a women requires care, the spouse is either unable to help or no longer living,” said Matt McCann, Long Term Health Care Specialist.
McCann adds that many times with Long Term Care Insurance in place an adult daughter becomes the caregiver for mom. This is what is referred to in the media as the “Sandwich Generation”. This means, usually a woman, is the wife, mom and caregiver all at the same time. Many times this woman must leave their job and it creates a huge financial as well as physical and emotional burden on them, McCann added.
The total health care cost of Alzheimer’s and other dementias is expected to hit $214 billion this year in the United States. The charge to Medicare and Medicaid will be $150 billion, and Medicare will spend nearly $1 in every $5 on patients with Alzheimer’s or other dementias, the report said.
That $214 billion figure doesn’t include the unpaid caregiving provided by family and friends, which is valued at more than $220 billion, according to the report. Currently, 15.5 million caregivers provide 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care and many suffer their own health problems as a result.
The physical and emotional demands of providing care led to about $9.3 billion in increased health care costs for Alzheimer’s caregivers in 2013, the report said.
The American Association for Long Term Care Insurance said that in 2013 just the top 10 insurance companies in Long Term Care Insurance paid over $20.5 million a day in claims.
The impact of Alzheimer’s is likely to increase as baby boomers age. If current trends continue, as many as 16 million Americans could have Alzheimer’s by 2050 at a cost of $1.2 trillion (in current dollars) to the nation. That includes a 500 percent rise in Medicare and Medicaid spending and a 400 percent increase in out-of-pocket spending, the report predicted.
Even though Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, many people still don’t understand it. For example, 24 percent of Americans mistakenly believe they’re only at risk for Alzheimer’s if it runs in their family.
“Despite being the nation’s biggest health threat, Alzheimer’s disease is still largely misunderstood. Everyone with a brain — male or female, family history or not — is at risk for Alzheimer’s,” Geiger said.
“Age is the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s, and America is aging. As a nation, we must band together to protect our greatest asset, our brains,” she added.
The US Department of Health and Human Services reports that if you reach the age of 65 you have a 70% chance of requiring some type of Long Term Health Care before you pass. Long Term Care Insurance is an affordable way to address this issue. Most people start planning in their 40’s and 50’s when your health is still good and premiums are very affordable. Premiums are based, in part, by your age and health at the time of application and they are intended to remain level.
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Famous TV Doctor Oz says, “Soon there will be two kinds of people in the world People that have Alzheimer’s and people that know some who has Alzheimer’s.
The report appears in the March issue of Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.
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