The Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) review titled, ‘Women and Dementia, a global research review’ was supported by Red & Yellow Care, a UK based pioneering care provider for the over 50s.
The review shows that the impact of dementia on women including those in the UK is significant and highlights the need to provide women with much better support whether they are a person with dementia or a caregiver.
Women and dementia in the UK today
- Dementia affects over 800,000 people in the UK, of which 488,000 are estimated to be women1.
- The gender split of people with dementia in the UK is disproportionate, as 61% of people with dementia are women and 39% are men2. This is likely due to women living longer than men and age being a big risk factor for dementia2.
- Women over 60 are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease compared to breast cancer2.
- Dementia is the leading cause of death among UK women, accounting for 12.2% (31,850) of deaths in 2013, more than heart disease, stroke or the most common forms of cancer3.
- Women are more likely to be caregivers of people with dementia, accounting for 60-70% of all unpaid carers2.
- Women are living longer than men so may face not having a partner to care for them. The Women and Dementia report identified that in England and Wales, 60% of women aged over 75 are widowed compared to 29% of men. Similarly, 59% of people aged over 85 live alone, three quarters of which are women4.
- Estimates suggest there are 1.2 million older lesbian and gay people in the UK, however there is little attention given to lesbian and bisexual women living with dementia which may impact their experience from diagnosis to dementia care and treatment5,6.
Expert comment on the findings from the ‘Women and Dementia’ review
“The Women and Dementia report is a powerful reminder of the impact of dementia and dementia care on women. One of the difficulties women face as a caregiver is losing themselves given the all-encompassing nature of dementia care. The report is also a positive reminder that every woman has her own identity and understanding that is critical in addressing emotional and environmental needs. Little things can make a big difference in dementia care, for example if a woman has a favourite handbag and is anxious when away from it, simply putting it somewhere close by her can help emotionally. One size does not fit all when it comes to dementia care, yet flexible care tailored to a person’s medical, psychological and social needs can help improve the wellbeing and quality of life so they can continue to enjoy what matters to them.”
Vivien Ziwocha, Head of Care at Red & Yellow Care.
“The Women and Dementia Report provides the first official recognition that it is women who do most of the caring, both as family members and as paid staff in care homes. There is a marked gender imbalance in dementia care and the contribution of women is taken for granted. In the UK, we must raise the status of women in caring roles by providing carers with individualised specialist help from experts in the field on an ongoing basis and ensuring that they are more adequately rewarded and recognised.”
Dr Nori Graham, Honorary Vice President, Alzheimer’s Disease International and Non- Executive Director, Red & Yellow Care
“This review has demonstrated that women have a threefold greater risk of developing dementia than men and feel a greater strain from the condition especially from the experience of transitioning from being a carer throughout life to being the recipient of care. Therefore it’s important that women are offered smart solutions to address both the physical and psychological impact of the condition. In my experience this can be achieved by integrating health and social care, minimising the number of doors someone may need to go through to access care.”
Dr James Warner, Medical Director at Red & Yellow Care.
About Red & Yellow Care
Red & Yellow Care offers bespoke and responsive care for older people with long-term health conditions, including dementia, providing the right intervention by the right specialist at the right time.
A multi-professional team of doctors, therapists, nurses and carers keep a watchful eye on the person’s physical, psychological and social health and act swiftly and appropriately whenever a health issue arises or is anticipated. This prevents or minimises the impact that health issues have on that person’s daily and social activities enabling them to pursue an independent and fulfilling life.
Red & Yellow Care provides services wherever people live (in their own home, extra care facility or care home) while their specialists can also see clients in private consulting rooms. A range of specialists are available under one roof enabling quick access to the relevant specialist if and when required based on the patients’ needs.
6 Westwood, S. Dementia, Women and Sexuality: How the Intersection of Ageing, Gender and Sexuality Magnify Dementia Concerns among Lesbian and Bisexual women. Dementia. 2014 pii: 1471301214564446. Available at: http://dem.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/12/19/1471301214564446 .abstract Last accessed June 2015
1 Department of Health. 2010 to 2015 government policy: dementia. 2015. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/2010-to-2015-government-policy-dementia/2010-to- 2015-government-policy-dementia. Last accessed June 2015
2 Alzheimer’s Research UK. Women and Dementia: A Marginalised Majority. Available at: http://cdn.dementiablog.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Women-and-dementia-report.pdf Last accessed June 2015
3 Office for National Statistics. Deaths Registered in England and Wales (Series DR), 2013. Available at: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171778_381807.pdf Last accessed June 2015
4 Women and Dementia: A Global Research Review. Alzheimer’s Disease International
5 Ward et al. Don’t look back? Improving Health and Social Care Service Delivery for Older LGB users. Equality and Human Rights Commission. Available at: http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/sites/default/files/documents/research/dont_look_back_improving_health_and_social_care.pdf Last accessed June 2015