The Impact of Dementia on Women

Here in Washington State, we are ranked as having the 4th highest Alzheimer’s death rate in America. While the Alzheimer’s disease is ranked as the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, it is the 3rd leading cause of death in Washington. What is clear in the new facts and figures put out by the Alzheimer’s Association in 2014, is that women are at the epicenter of the Alzheimer’s crisis. 

The Risk

  • Women in their 60s are about twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease over the rest of their lives as they are to develop breast cancer.
  • At age 65, women without Alzheimer’s have more than a 1 in 6 change of developing Alzheimer’s during the remainder of their lives, compared with a 1 in 11 chance for men.

The Epidemic

An estimated 3.2 million women aged 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s disease.

Among those aged 71 and older, 16 percent of women have Alzheimer’s and other dementias, compared with 11 percent of men. 

Stats about Washington State: Number of people aged 65 and older with Alzheimer’s by age

Year 65-74 75-84 85+ Total 
2014 14,000 40,000 43,000 97,000
2020 20,000 50,000 47,000 120,000
2025 23,000 68,000 54,000 140,000


Alzheimer’s Caregivers

  • Not only are women more likely to have Alzheimer’s disease, they are also more likely to be caregiver of those with the disease.  
  • The most recent data show that of all unpaid Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers, 63% are women.
  • Studies have consistently shown that women make up 60-70% of Alzheimer’s caregivers. This means about 10 million women are currently providing unpaid care to someone with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
  • Women caregivers provide more intense care for longer periods of time.
  • There are 2.5 times more women than men who provide on-duty care 24-hours a day for someone with Alzheimer’s. Similarly, there are 2.3 times more women than men who have been providing care to someone with Alzheimer’s for more than 5 years.
  • Women caregivers are more likely than to men to help with more intense, personal aspects of care, such as bathing, dressing, toileting, and managing incontinence.
  • Studies show that female caregivers receive less caregiving support than male caregivers. Even women caring for husbands with advanced Alzheimer’s disease receive less support from family and friends than men caring for wives in similar situations.

Caregiving responsibilities take a toll on women’s health and well-being:

  • Almost half of all women Alzheimer’s caregivers say that their caregiving responsibilities are physically stressful. This is twice the rate as male Alzheimer’s caregivers. In addition, 62% of women find caregiving to be emotionally stressful.
  • While about 1/3 of both men and women Alzheimer’s caregivers feel isolated as a result of their caregiving duties, for women, this feeling is much more commonly linked to depression.
  • Nearly three-quarters of women caregivers express concern about the ability to maintain their own health since becoming a caregiver.

Impacts for Women on the Workplace

  • Because of caregiving duties, women are likely to experience adverse consequences in the workplace.
  • Nearly 19% of women Alzheimer’s caregivers had to quit work either to become a caregiver in the first place or because their caregiving duties became too burdensome.
  • Among working women caregivers, 20% have gone from working full time to part time, compared with only 3% of working male caregivers.
  • Other employment effects on working women caregivers include:

                 18% have taken a leave of absence from work

                 10% have lost job benefits

                 17% felt they had been penalized at work because of their caregiving duties

- Statistics provided by the Alzheimer’s Association 2014 Facts and Figures

Hope & Help 

Chances are we will all know a woman who is impacted by Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. This demanding disease demands our creativity and help is a phone call away. Geriatric Care Managers are standing with women and families of loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease to provide the customized care, education, and support that families so desperately need and deserve. Through the elite team of Care Managers and In-Home Dementia Caregivers, Sound Options is able to turn stressful situations into manageable solutions allowing family to enjoy a work/life balance and a high quality of life. For more information visit, or give us a call to see how we can help your family receive our customized model of dementia care. 800.628.7649     


Published on June 20, 2014.