Dementia has been unanimously recognized as the leading killer of people in the United States with the highest rate of deaths being linked with this disease. The age-adjusted death rates for this neurodegenerative disease increased from 31.5 deaths per 100,000 in 2000 t 67.8 deaths in 2018, as found out by a team of researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With regards to every analysis, data showed that dementia was seen to be the primary cause for around 275,987 deaths in 2017, among which 45% of the deaths were caused due to Alzheimer’s disease.
Deaths due to Alzheimer’s and dementia have gone through a huge increase from 2000 to 2018 and it seems that the problem is getting bigger with time. It is the aging population that is fueling the hike in the number of dementia-related deaths. More and more people are living till their older ages and old age is the time when there is highest risk of dementia. If you’re someone old who hasn’t died of heart issues or cancer or some other disease, you will most probably suffer from dementia!
The effects of dementia on women are devastating
The few diseases which lead to dementia are all progressive and this clearly implies that they get worse with time. Presently there is no effective treatment which can stop the disease from progressing or prevent it from developing. Both the cognitive and physical decline of a person who is suffering from dementia can occur either too fast or can be drawn over a decade. However, ultimately dementia is fatal and it is a burden on the person who is suffering from it, on someone who is caring for a person with dementia, on the economy and on the health care system. But it needs a special mention that the UK women population have been hit the hardest
Women are more likely to develop dementia during their lifetimes and it is being seen that dementia is also the leading cause of death among UK women. The possibilities of developing this disease grow rapidly with age and hence as more and more UK women are celebrating their 90th and 100th birthday, they’re probably getting closer to the risk of losing their precious years to dementia.
It is predominantly women who play the role of a dementia caregiver
Women tend to reduce their working hours for reasons like taking care of someone loved or near who is suffering from dementia. In fact, there are some women who are harshly penalised for taking on caregiving responsibilities. There is no doubt about the fact that dementia is one of the biggest medical challenges of all time and there is an immediate need for treatment for the aging people. There are organizations and communities with the goal of shedding light on the unique effect of dementia on women, including the trouble of living with the disease of taking care of someone with the disease.
Too often, it is seen that women carry the responsibility of taking care of their loved ones only to end up suffering from the condition. As more women are dying of dementia, the disease is also taking a toll on their bodies and minds. Women are strong enough to fight against dementia and combat this disease. Top class female scientists play a vital role in developing few breakthroughs that will take the nation forward to inventing a treatment for this degenerative disease. With a constant increase in receiving funding from the government and from the charitable sector, it is important for people to support and grow with the scientists who are striving hard to help people with dementia.
500,000 women are living with dementia
Dementia has an impact of 850,000 people and 45 million all over the world. It has been predicted that 64% of people suffering from dementia are women and 36% are men. This throws light on the fact that women live longer than men and age is probably the biggest factor that leads to the condition. Estimates reveal that more than half a million women live with dementia. Dementia is probably the most feared condition for people who are above the age of 60 and this more than any other life-threatening disease including stroke, cancer, diabetes and heart issues.
At the age of 65, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s doubles every 5 years. Currently, an 85-year old woman has 6.8 years of their life remaining and the sad result of these trends is that there are many women who live these extra years suffering from dementia. Being diagnosed with dementia considerably reduces the life expectancy rate of a person. People with dementia live an average of 5 years after she is diagnosed with the disease. So, living with dementia shortens your lifespan and although it is not a direct cause of death, there is always a negative effect on the quality and length of someone’s life.
Why are women more vulnerable to Alzheimer’s?
The short answer is still not known but for a longer answer, there can be various possibilities. One of the most vital factors which is influencing in making women suffer from dementia is their longer lifespan. On an average, women live for 80.6 years while men are predicted to live for 75.7 years. Don’t you think that men are more likely to die sooner before they even develop dementia?
There is one more possibility that perhaps Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias impact women in a different way than men. Research takes a look at the several ideas, whether for some reason, the brains of women develop higher level of pathology than males. There are also several studies which are also working to study the role played by hormones.
Women play the role of caregivers for their loved ones
In the UK, United States and in Australia, it has been estimated than 6.8 million women are offering more than 10 billion hours in one year while taking care of a person suffering from dementia. As long as home caring is concerned, women caregivers invest more than 30 hours in a week to take care of their family members who are suffering from dementia. These women are also simultaneously playing other roles like that of a working mom, all of which might impact their role as a caregiver.
As caregivers get busy in taking care of their near and dear ones and amidst all this, they forget to take care of their own health. There are times when such caregivers end up seeking emergency medical care due to the fact that they experience high level of emotional stress. Not only are they emotionally affected but they are also affected financially. They often need to spend oodles of money on their loved ones; they often take a leave from work and even quit their jobs.
Resolutions that you can take in order to reduce the risk of dementia
Every New Year always brings hope, promise and a commitment for a healthier lifestyle. Though it has been seen that there is no such cure for Alzheimer’s disease, yet there are several researches which reveal that our regular lifestyle choices are probably the most vital factors as long as prevention is concerned. So, let’s check out few lifestyle changes that women can take in order to prevent the occurence of dementia.
#1: Start exercising regularly
The most popular and convincing idea is to engage yourself in physical exercise so that you can prevent this neurodegenerative disease from settling in your body and mind. Even though you may not be able to stop the disease yet you can at least slow down the progression of this disease in people. Practice at least 30 minutes of aerobics or free-hand exercises for 5 days in a week. That will be enough to keep your body active.
#2: Try having a Mediterranean diet
This is a diet which has been seen to thwart Alzheimer’s or at least alleviate its progression level. In fact, there is evidence which shows that even if you partially follow a Mediterranean diet, it can have a better impact on your body and mind. If you don’t know what this diet includes, it comprises of fruits and vegetables, olive oil, whole grains, legumes, nuts, fish, eggs, dairy and red meat (sometimes).
#3: Get proper sleep
There are increasing evidences which suggest that better sleep can prevent Alzheimer’s and this is linked with increased amyloid clearance from human brain. Hence, you should aim to sleep for more than 7-8 hours of sleep so as to prevent Alzheimer’s.
#4: Learn new languages or things
There are doctors and researchers who believe that activities which are stimulating can be helpful in preventing dementia but the evidence for the benefit is limited to the enhancement of the task. You can opt for thinking skills test which doesn’t generalize to improvement in daily living activities. Besides increasing cultural awareness and expanding cultural distances, you can add yet another language to your list in order to delay the onset of the disease by 4 years.
#5: Include Vitamin K supplements to your diet
This is often considered as the ‘forgotten vitamin’ but you can’t deny the fact that Vitamin K plays a vital role in preventing Alzheimer’s and dementia. Though there are several people who consume multi-vitamins, vitamin K is not present in most of these multivitamins. If you don’t wish to take in Vitamin K supplement, you can eat lots of green vegetables.
#6: Reduce levels of stress
There are several studies which have linked anxiety and stress with Alzheimer’s, specifically among people who are already more susceptible to the disease. According to a study, it was seen that people who have mild cognitive impairment usually complained about moderate to high level of anxiety. They are 138% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.
#7: Try and laugh more and stay happy
Several researchers have also found that laughter has a magical effect on your soul. The more you laugh, the more you play and remain active, your brain remains engaged. You can grow new brain cells and also prevent Alzheimer’s from occuring in your mind.
#8: Eat more fruits
According to a study that was completed in 2016, it showed that fruits comprised of a compound which is called fisetin and this has got fighting properties for Alzheimer’s. This was usually found in mangos and strawberries and it has also got anti-inflammatory properties which can combat the onset of this disease in both human and mice.
#9: Take out time for meditation
It is more important to calm down your mind when you are eager to prevent Alzheimer’s. According to a study, it was proved that yoga and meditation had less brain atrophy as compared to those who didn’t practice meditation. Meditation can boost the protective tissue inside your brain and hence seniors can feel less stressed with the reduction of the hormone cortisol. This will prevent the development of dementia.
#10: Control the intake of sugar
Diabetes has also been linked closely with Alzheimer’s and there are some researchers who call this disease third-type diabetes. Make sure you’re careful about the sugar intake so that you can control your levels of blood sugar so that you can keep your brain healthy.
Because there is no such care for dementia, the efforts of researchers and scientists have usually concentrated on the ways in which you can modify the behavior of people to delay the disease or prevent its onset. Based on all such evidences, if you could boost cardiovascular fitness through physical activity, this can improve the kind of approach towards the disease. As you improve your heart and brain health, this will have an automatic impact on guarding dementia. If you’re a woman, you should take a step further to help yourself avoid developing dementia. Follow the instructions given above and if needed, seek help of a doctor who can advise you on the best steps to take.