The Impact of Alzheimer’s on Women

Today’s guest blog is from Phyllis Ferrell, Lilly’s Vice President, Global Alzheimer’s Disease Platform Team.

Phyllis Ferrell 2013 Bass headshotEarlier this week I highlighted that more than 5.4 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s, a disease that can rob them of their memories, dignity and eventually their lives. I am personally connected to Alzheimer’s through my father and father-in-law. I find this notable because in the 100 years since Alzheimer’s was first described, researchers have come to understand that women develop the disease far more often than men. I am statistically much more likely to have Alzheimer’s after reaching 65 than my father.

In fact, women make up two-thirds of Americans over the age of 65 living with Alzheimer’s. An estimated 3.2 million women over the age of 65 currently live with Alzheimer’s. Similarly, just as Alzheimer’s doesn’t affect men at the rate it does women, my sisters of color bear an even greater risk of developing the disease. Statistically, African Americans are twice as likely to develop late-onset Alzheimer’s and Latinxs are 1.5 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

To fight this disparity, I joined some of the smartest, most amazing women I know as a founding member of WomenAgainstAlzheimers. We are an open coalition of women from science, industry, academia, public policy, advocacy and the lay community who decided that we can be more effective by working together in the fight to end Alzheimer’s. As my friend Meryl Comer says, “We have changed enough diapers and we don’t want our kids changing ours.” If this is important to you I encourage you to get involved and find out more about joining our #WeWontWait

The unequal impact of Alzheimer’s has also been a major topic of conversation at this year’sAlzheimer’s Association International Conference in Toronto. This week, industry leaders, advocates and researchers convene to discuss strategies to prevent Alzheimer’s by 2025 with an understanding that the disease doesn’t impact everyone equally.

I’m committed to finding relief for women affected by Alzheimer’s, and I invite you to join me in making your voice heard. Be part of the conversation on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtags #AAIC2016 and #EndAlz. You can also learn more about Alzheimer’s by visiting the Alzheimer’s Readiness Project website.

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