How Alzheimer’s Affects Men and Women Differently


Posted by Kia Crawford on November 3rd, 2015 in Education | No Comments

Men and women face unique challenges living with Alzheimer’s disease. Although both genders can develop the disease, the way it affects them can be very different—both socially and in terms of the symptoms themselves. That means that the kind of care needed by a male or female loved one will also be different.

A Woman’s World

The biggest difference between the genders is that there are more women with Alzheimer’s disease than men. This isn’t because women are more susceptible, it’s because women tend to live longer. Alzheimer’s is an age-related disease that usually sets in after age 65. Since women live an average of five years longer than men, they make up the majority of Alzheimer’s patients.

This means that most residents in assisted living communities are women, not men. But it’s not the only factor. Men often feel more strongly than women about being self-sufficient, and don’t always want to accept care. Plus, they may not always feel at home in a community that is primarily made of women. As a result, older men face a risk of not getting the Alzheimer’s care they need. The best assisted living and memory care communities make a point to offer activities and programs that appeal to male residents.

Different Stresses, Different Symptoms

Men and women also experience Alzheimer’s differently, for a mixture of social and biological reasons. Although the effects on the brain are identical for both genders, the day to day experience of Alzheimer’s can be very different. For example:

  • Women are less likely to wander. Wandering is when a senior with Alzheimer’s leaves the house and walks away without a clear purpose, often in a confused state of mind. Both genders can wander, but men do so far more often than women. The reason for this is not clear.
  • Men can be more combative than women. Anyone living with Alzheimer’s is likely to get irritable or even aggressive at times. But men may do so more often and may be more aggressive than women. This is partly because men may feel undignified being cared for, and lose their temper more easily. It also relates to declining testosterone. In some cases, men with Alzheimer’s may behave in inappropriate sexual ways toward those around them. All of this can make it harder to care for male seniors with Alzheimer’s, especially since they tend to be larger and stronger than women.
  • Women more likely to be caregivers. When couples age together, both partners tend to help care for the other. But women are far more likely to become a primary caregiver than men are. This can be a stressful, demanding role, and a woman with Alzheimer’s will not be able to perform it long-term.

Getting the Right Care

Both men and women with Alzheimer’s need appropriate care. The best way to get that care is an assisted living community with a dedicated memory care neighborhood. Memory care staff are patient and kind, and are trained to work with seniors with dementia. They have the resources and the knowledge to provide dignified care to both men and women.

For more information regarding Alzheimer’s or any other senior care issue, please visit the knowledgeable staff at Dogwood Forest. Contact us today.