Women and Alzheimer’s: A new website provides information, guidance and help

Posted: Mar. 31, 2017

Women develop Alzheimer’s disease at twice the rate of men, and by the age of 75 a woman is three times more likely to have Alzheimer’s than a man. Now a new website created by one of the nation’s premier Alzheimer’s research support organizations, Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, is committed to providing women with information dedicated to their struggle with this devastating illness. The website link is WomenandAlzheimers.org.

“We need to better understand why Alzheimer’s so disproportionally affects women and what it means for those who are afflicted and their families,” said Tim Armour, President and CEO of Cure Alzheimer’s Fund. “Most important, the website WomenandAlzheimers.org will provide information about the latest research on women and Alzheimer’s – and raise funds to increase the level of research.”

WomenandAlzheimers.org will also provide information about events centered on women and Alzheimer’s. The Heroines section of the website will offer inspiring stories of women on the front lines fighting Alzheimer’s through research, outreach and fundraising.

“What makes the plight of women with Alzheimer’s especially devastating is the simple fact that women are the primary caregivers to the vast majority of those who have the disease,” said Barbara Chambers, Senior Engagement Officer for Cure Alzheimer’s Fund. “The burden to the caregiver is not only emotional, it is also physical and financial. This makes it even more difficult to deal with the large number of women afflicted by this disease as they age.”

Research is bearing out the fact that the prevalence of Alzheimer’s in women is not, as once thought, simply a function of a longer lifespan. Now the search is on for the biological reasons for the higher numbers. By finding the reasons for the inequity, we may find new clues as to the origins of the disease.

In 2016, the organization funded two major projects focused on the relationship between women and Alzheimer’s disease. In conjunction with Rotary, Cure Alzheimer’s Fund co-funded a grant of $375,000 for a research project to search for female-specific genetic and other factors contributing to women’s risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Funds for the project were also provided by Maria Shriver’s Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement. The research team for that project is headed by Rudy Tanzi, Ph.D., Chairman of the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund’s Research Consortium, Vice Chair of Neurology and Director of the Genetics and Aging Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Kennedy Chair at Harvard Medical School.

Additionally, Cure Alzheimer’s Fund provided a grant of $151,000 for a study looking at the relationship between sex and the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. This project, by Murali Doraiswamy, M.D. of Duke University Medical Center, is using novel “big data” computational methodologies to look at the relationship between sex and cognitive decline in people at risk for Alzheimer’s. Some recent findings suggest that women with mild cognitive impairment may progress to Alzheimer’s disease at faster rates than men. However, the biological basis of the sex differences in Alzheimer’s is debated and warrants a more detailed examination, which this project will pursue.

“It’s clear that we need to understand better the relationship between sex, gender, and Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Tanzi. “The evidence indicates that more women suffer from the disease, and that their decline is more precipitous. As we look to find ways to more effectively treat the disease, understanding how women are impacted by it becomes very important.”

For more information on Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, and women and Alzheimer’s, please visit the organization’s new website on the subject at http://womenandalzheimers.org

About Cure Alzheimer’s Fund

Cure Alzheimer’s Fund is a non-profit dedicated to funding the most promising research to prevent, slow or reverse Alzheimer’s disease. Since its founding in 2004, Cure Alzheimer’s Fund has contributed over $50 million to research, and its funded initiatives have been responsible for several key breakthroughs – including the groundbreaking “Alzheimer’s in a Dish” study. Cure Alzheimer’s Fund has received a score of 100 percent regarding its overall financial health from Charity Navigator and a four star rating from the organization five consecutive times. With 100 percent of funds raised going directly to research, Cure Alzheimer’s has been able to support some of the best scientific minds in the field of Alzheimer’s research.