Nearly two-thirds of people living with Alzheimer’s disease in the U.S. are women—and nearly 75% of the nation’s caregivers also are women.
The Kensington Reston hosted a virtual Zoom event with Columbia University Irving Medical Center and Weill Cornell Medical Center to explore the research behind why more women may develop Alzheimer’s disease than men, the link between menopause and Alzheimer’s, and how women can protect their brains from cognitive decline.
Read on to watch the event, learn about the expert speakers, and The Kensington Reston’s ongoing commitment to educating and empowering the caregivers in our community.
Age is the greatest risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease, and women generally live longer than men. As a result, more women may develop Alzheimer’s than men due to age.
However, experts believe this is not the only reason why it occurs more frequently in women.
More recent studies have shown that there may be structural and functional differences in a woman’s brain, as well as hormonal factors and even cultural or societal factors that may contribute to the increased risk.
During this event, Dr. Susan E. Loeb-Zeitlin, an obstetrics and gynecology specialist in New York affiliated with Weill Cornell Medical Center, and Dr. Stephanie Cosentino, associate professor of neuropsychology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, discussed the hormone-Alzheimer’s connection.
The experts also shared steps women can take to reduce the chance of developing dementia, in an effort to help the caregivers in our community keep their brain health and overall health strong as they age.
The Kensington Reston is passionate about sharing the information and resources caregivers need to be the best version of themselves. Our expert partnerships give us access to the latest news and research impacting seniors and caregivers.
What factors do researchers believe contribute to a woman’s increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s?
Current research reveals that the following factors may contribute to a woman’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease:
- Structural, sex-specific differences in a woman’s brain may increase the spread of the tau protein, known to cause damage in the brain
- Autoimmune diseases are more common in women, which may contribute to the development of more amyloid plaques that are found in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s
- The hormone estrogen decreases in women after menopause, and estrogen may play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s
Due to the role of estrogen, scientists are continuing to examine how the female reproductive period influences the development of Alzheimer’s.
A study presented at the 2022 American Heart Association Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle & Cardiometabolic Health Conference found evidence that women who enter menopause before age 40 were 35% more likely to develop dementia later in life.
Researchers believe the link between early menopause and dementia is possibly a result of lower estrogen levels that occur post-menopause.
One doctor involved in the study said long-term lack of estrogen can increase oxidative stress, potentially resulting in brain aging and cognitive impairment.
The study’s limitations included a lack of research on early menopause that occurs naturally versus early menopause as a result of ovary removal.
Some experts believe there is more to it than estrogen alone, and that women who enter menopause early generally have other health issues as well.
Experts are in agreement that there are many steps women can take to boost their overall health and wellness, which in turn may help reduce the risks of developing dementia later in life.
During the event, our expert guests detailed the steps women can take to protect their brains through healthy lifestyle changes and habits.
Consider implementing the following healthy changes in your life to improve cognitive function:
- Reduce daily stressors where possible, and learn to work through unavoidable stress through meditation, prayer, breathing exercises, or other personal methods
- Visit your doctor routinely to stay on top of existing health issues, and take necessary medications and supplements
- Perform daily exercises that increase heart rate, such as walking, jogging, or biking
- Get enough rest
- Exercise your brain through social activities, brain games, puzzles, taking a class, or reading
- Eat a diet rich in healthy fats, protein, fiber, and leafy greens, such as the MIND Diet
- Cut out smoking and excessive alcohol consumption
- Maintain a healthy weight
Work with your doctor to implement healthy lifestyle changes that fit your personal health challenges and goals.
At The Kensington Reston, we offer residents a full range of services that allow them to age in a healthy way and improve their overall quality of life.
The Kensington Reston Promise is to love and care for your family as we do our own, and this Promise includes the family members and caregivers of those in our community.
We strive to improve your quality of life as well as your loved one by staying up-to-date on the latest news and advances in health and wellness for seniors and caregivers. Then, we offer you access to these resources as we acquire them.
You can find our resources on the following pages:
- Events page, where you can find all upcoming events and RSVP to attend
- Blog filled with research, news, event recaps, and more
- Kensington Konnect page for informative, entertaining resources such as virtual tours, online classes, cooking tips, and how-to videos
As an enhanced assisted living and memory care community, we offer a full spectrum of clinical support and a wide range of services. This ensures that residents never have to move out of our community, no matter how their care needs change over time.
We offer the following services:
- Nutritious, gourmet dining services with high-quality ingredients
- Full calendar of events to encourage an active, social lifestyle
- Rehabilitation services including physical, occupational, and speech therapy and unique wellness programs
- Specialized memory care, including two neighborhoods, Connections and Haven, for customized care
- 24/7 onsite licensed nurses with medication administration
- Onsite physician office with regular hours
- Wide range of suite plans with options for private or companion living
If you’re interested in learning more about our cozy, loving community and our upcoming caregiver events, please reach out to our team today.
We look forward to welcoming you into The Kensington Reston family!