Brain Health: Women’s chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are DOUBLE that of a man. Women have more than DOUBLE the chance of caring for a family member with cognitive impairment. Current studies show that women are more likely to development cognitive impairment faster than men and not just because of age(1).
The lasting impact this has on women is on different levels. First, more women are struggling with and dying of dementia. Second, since women are often the caretakers, personal and financial sacrifices are often made that end up hurting them. And finally, more women are leaving Alzheimer research work for various reasons.
This ongoing difficult situation for women in all parts of the world resulted in a Global Alliance on Women’s Brain Health. Their goal is to raise money for research, develop a scientific agenda, and organize doctors and scientists to encourage a more rapid solution to the problem. WomenAgainstAlzheimer’s also unites women across the world to search for a cure to Alzheimer’s and is involved in the Global Alliance. Before this alliance, there were few organized efforts to fund research for gender based studies or women’s brain health.
If you or someone you know has been a caretaker of an older adult, you know how stressful, isolating, and costly this can be. It can keep you out of the work force for years and hurt your own retirement. It can negatively change your relationship with your spouse. This is in addition to the emotional toll it can take on you personally.
I completely understand that the desire to take care of your mom comes directly from the heart. So, from my days working in Hospice, I believe that managed or assisted care where you work with a team is best. Remember when our parents went to work, they hired a baby sitter. There was not a sense of guilt or dereliction of duty because we knew this was best for both parties. If we go to work now, your mom can enjoy a stimulating day care or other socially engaging program.
Studies show that day care benefits the elder’s health in the social, cognitive, and physical aspects of life. The social interaction reduces depression and anxiety. Structured activities increase alertness and physical mobility. This is all done by a staff of licensed nurses and trained staff. Day care is certainly better for her than just sitting around watching TV. This involvement benefits both parties as your stress is reduced while their social life is enhanced. My professional experience is that the team approach of different disciplines is the best model of care.
In terms of what measures to take and what to eat to help prevent cognitive decline, please refer to my other article on the aging brain: http://blog.creativeretirementforwomen.com/the-aging-brain/
L. Johnson of http://www.creativeretirementforwomen.com
(1)Robinson, F., (26 Oct, 2015) “Leaders from Canada, United States, and United Kingdom Announce Global Alliance on Women’s Brain Health” Yahoo Finance. Retrieved on 10-27-15 from //ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/leaders-canada-united-states-united-120000945.html