Over 2 Million Men Live with Alzheimer’s Disease November 12 2019
While Alzheimer’s disease affects both women and men, it is somewhat less common in men. It was initially thought the answer may be women generally live longer than men, making them more likely to reach the ages of greater risk. However, there is emerging evidence that suggests there may be unique biological and social reasons for these differences beyond longevity alone.
As of 2019, an estimated 5.8 million people in the U.S. are living with Alzheimer's disease. Nearly two-thirds affected are women. Why is Alzheimer’s disease less likely in men—studies have shown:
- Because men are more likely to die from heart disease in middle age, those men who live past 65 may have healthier hearts which may protect the brain from Alzheimer’s disease.
- Depression is linked to higher dementia risk and women are two-times more likely to have depression compared to men.
- Researchers say it appears tau proteins, a primary factor in Alzheimer’s disease progression, grow more rapidly in women compared to men.
- Brain scans show that the rate at which brain cells are dying in the brain is slower in men than in women.
- Men with Alzheimer’s disease experience a slower cognitive decline during the course of Alzheimer’s disease. Conversely, men do not survive for as long a period as women after diagnosis.
- Despite a number studies reporting the benefits of exercise, women exercise less than men, which is only partly accounted for by gender differences in parenting roles.
- Higher levels of education have been associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s for both women and men. And historically, men have had greater opportunities for higher education.
The study of sex and gender differences in the field of Alzheimer’s disease is in its infancy compared with other areas of medicine. Better understanding of sex and gender differences could lead to better treatments and preventative measures for both women and men.
Male-specific activities and crafts are important for men living with Alzheimer's disease or dementia. If given the opportunity, proper resources, and step-by-step direction, they may not only be able to participate, but find great comfort and enjoyment in so doing.