Jun 28, 2023, 4:00 am UTC
Alzheimer's Disease in Women: Questions and Resources
The gender gap in brain health can be vast. In the United States, two-thirds (66%) of people with Alzheimer's disease are women. Yet in 2019, only 12 percent of the $2.4 billion Alzheimer’s research budget at the U.S. National Institutes of Health went toward projects specifically focused on women.
Organizations around the world are rallying to close the gender gap by increasing Alzheimer's research on, for, and by women, including the Women's Alzheimer's Movement (WAM), which focuses on research, education, prevention, and advocacy.
“Women are at the epicenter of the Alzheimer’s crisis. That’s why we must be at the heart of the solution," according to WAM founder Maria Shriver.
Questions about Alzheimer's in women
Here are some urgent outstanding questions about women and Alzheimer's:
Prevalence: Why is Alzheimer's disease more prevalent in women compared to men?
Risk factors: What are the sex- and gender-specific risk factors that contribute to Alzheimer's disease in women?
Hormones: How do hormonal changes, particularly during menopause, impact Alzheimer's risk?
Biomarkers: Are there unique biological markers or disease mechanisms in women with Alzheimer's?
Caregiving: How does caregiving for individuals with Alzheimer's affect women?
Lifestyle interventions: Do some lifestyle interventions, such as diet, exercise, and cognitive stimulation, influence the risk of Alzheimer's disease in women more than men? Which ones should women prioritize?
Treatment: Can tailored treatments and interventions be developed that take into account the unique characteristics and needs of women with Alzheimer's?
Resources on women and Alzheimer's
Here are some of the organizations calling for action on Alzheimer's and women — and how you can get involved:
Women's Alzheimer's Movement (USA): Read WAM's guides, including "10 Things Every Woman Should Watch For as She Ages."
Women Against Alzheimer's (Global): Join or donate to catalyze a culture of brain health and advocate for sex- and gender-based Alzheimer's research.
Women's Brain Project (Global): Join or donate to this global non-profit organization dedicated to bringing sex and gender considerations to precision medicine.
The Alzheimer's Association's (USA) Women's Alzheimer's Research Initiative (WARI): Learn about Alzheimer's research projects focused on women.
Alzheimer's Disease International (Global) published a sweeping report on women and dementia in 2015. It's a great place to get an international perspective on the the main issues affecting women in relation to dementia.
- 2023 Alzheimer's Facts and Figures: Special Report, Alzheimer's Association (Accessed June 20, 2023)
- Castro-Aldrete L, Moser MV, Putignano G, Ferretti MT, Schumacher Dimech A and Santuccione Chadha A (2023) Sex and gender considerations in Alzheimer’s disease: The Women’s Brain Project contribution. Front. Aging Neurosci. 15:1105620.