Statistics have shown us that women are more prone to developing dementia and in particular Alzheimer’s disease as they age, than men.
Now there is evidence that those that do suffer from the disease fare far worse than men for the same stages of the disease, at the same age bracket and with similar education and other skills. (1)
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia suffered by people in old age.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders, “Dementia is a word for a group of symptoms caused by disorders that affect the brain. It is not a specific disease. People with dementia may not be able to think well enough to do normal activities, such as getting dressed or eating. They may lose their ability to solve problems or control their emotions. Their personalities may change. They may become agitated or see things that are not there.” (2)
In the recent study that was conducted at University of Hertfordshire researchers found that men who were afflicted with the condition outperformed women counterparts.
The difference in performance was not only significant but also consistent for repeat trials.
The tests on both men and women were performed on the five cognitive areas, namely orientation, immediate recall, attention and calculation, delayed recall and language.
What shocked the scientists was that while healthy women have a distinct verbal skill (language dimension) advantage over men, the situation seemed quite the reverse for women who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.
The women found themselves significantly disadvantaged as compared to men in verbal abilities in the latter group.
Secondary data was used for the study. Neurocognitive data was taken from 15 published articles and analysis found a male lead in the language and visuospatial skills.
There were also considerable differences in recall and episodic (or memories associated with past, personal events) and semantic memories (memory associated with impersonal and learned facts) with better results leaning towards men.
According to the lead professor and author of the study, Keith Laws, “Unlike mental decline associated with normal aging, something about Alzheimer's specifically disadvantages women. There has been some previous, but limited, evidence that females with Alzheimer's deteriorate faster than males in the earlier stages of the disease. And possible explanations are for a hormonal influence, possibly due to oestrogen loss in women or perhaps a greater cognitive reserve in males which provides protection against the disease process. But further studies to examine sex differences with the disease are needed to provide greater clarity on these issues.” (3)
It is estimated that every year there are 7.7 million new cases diagnosed with dementia globally. Alzheimer's Disease International ran an estimate of more than 35 million people afflicted with the disease in 2010 itself. (4)
The study also exhibited that factors such as age, education level and dementia severity did not explain the advantage that men with the disease have over women with the disease
1. Women With Alzheimer’s Deteriorate Faster Than Men; Science Daily News; Web September 2012;
2. Dementia; Fisher Center For Alzheimer's - Research Foundation; Web September 2012;
3. Women with Alzheimer's Deteriorate Faster than Men; University of Hertfordshire; Web September 2012;
4. Dementia statistics - Numbers of People With Dementia; Alzheimer's Disease International; Web September 2012;
Preview of the report may be had at:
1. Greater cognitive deterioration in women than men with Alzheimer's disease: A meta analysis; Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology; Web September 2012;
Alzheimer’s Disease, activity, emotions, personality, problem solving, orientation, immediate recall, attention and calculation, delayed recall, language, verbal skill, visuospatial skill, neuro-cognitive data, episodic memory, semantic memory, dementia, hormonal influence, deteriorate, age, education
Statistics have shown us that women are more prone to developing dementia and in particular Alzheimer’s Disease as they age than men. Now there is evidence that those that do suffer from the disease fare far worse than men for the same stages of the disease, at the same age bracket and with similar education and other skills.
Reviewed October 17, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN