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Awareness Campaign Presents A Surprising Picture

January 29, 2015

By Editor
January is Alzheimer Awareness Month in Canada and that means a number of media and awareness initiatives that you may (hopefully) have experienced in the news. If you haven’t, you’ve missed the main message of this year’s campaign and that message is an important one as it relates to the impact of Alzheimer’s disease on women. If you’ve already seen this information through whatever information source you use, I think the message is significant enough to have you examine and digest it again.

The campaign is based on an analysis of Canadian data from a report commissioned by the Alzheimer Society of Canada called Rising Tide: The Impact of Dementia on Canadian Society and from the Study of the Health and Aging Workgroup. These studies have identified women as being impacted by Alzheimer’s in very substantial ways.

The awareness campaign’s title of The 72% immediately paints an alarming picture. Of all Canadians living with Alzheimer’s disease, 72% are women. The findings from The Study of the Health and Aging Workshop double-down on that impact determining that women are the main caregivers, by a long shot,  of people with dementia in Canada.  While it isn’t surprising that women more willingly take on the role of caregiver, it is surprising they take it on to the extent of representing 70% of the caregiving population.

So what does the Alzheimer Society want to see happen as a result of this campaign? The call to action is for women to be aware of the warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. A woman in her 40’s should be cognizant of those signs, of her own brain health and how organizations like the Alzheimer Society can provide help and hope should she and her loved ones require it.

Some may ask why this has been moved into the sphere or domain of a women’s issue when men obviously are affected by the disease as well. It’s really about the numbers. Since Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias occur most frequently in persons 75 years and older and with life expectancy of women being longer than men’s, the average percentage of sufferers across Canada swings heavily to the female gender.

The reality is that Alzheimer’s disease is a disease that changes lives - ultimately in the worse possible way. While the prevalence numbers are important, the most important message for anyone, is to become brain health smart and to react immediately to any problem you may experience. Early diagnosis is the secret to living well with the disease for as long as possible via lifestyle modifications, access to programming, services and possibly even participation in research and clinical trials.  All of those early interventions along with the ability to plan for future needs are the proactive and progressive ways to deal with dementia.