Mother’s Day is a time to celebrate the matriarchs of our families and salute their many sacrifices, from carrying us in the womb to caring for us throughout our lives. It’s also an opportunity to reflect on the influence of motherhood and maternal bonds in general. Though family dynamics are evolving beyond strict adherence to sex-prescribed roles, women do tend to be thought of as the nurturers and caregivers of the family. The role of nurturer or caregiver often extends beyond child care to include care for spouses and parents with dementia. Women provide the majority of informal dementia care, comprising around two-thirds of unpaid family caregivers. Women also dominate the formal care workforce, flocking to positions in the fields of health care and social welfare.
Unfortunately, when it comes to dementia, sex differences are not limited to caregiving. Mothers and women in general are also disproportionately afflicted with dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women. American women ages 71 and older are 1.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with dementia than American men from the same age group. While we understand that dementia prevalence is highly correlated with age and women tend to live longer than their male counterparts, there also appear to be sex differences in the neurodegenerative processes themselves. We continue to research the impact of sex on dementia diagnoses and look forward to a day when we understand why women are more affected by the disease.
In the meantime, our greatest weapon in the fight against dementia, for women and men, is prevention. Let this Mother’s Day serve as a reminder to check in with the women in your life who have done so much to check in on you. Consider raising the topic of brain health and use ENRICH as a tool to help know where you stand. After taking her out to lunch, consider taking her to www.enrichvisits.com.
Your mom has spent time caring for others, and it’s time to return the favor. Help her understand her brain health and how to prioritize it by mitigating dementia risk. Always remind her: If she wants to care for others, she must first care for herself.
We wish you all a happy Mother’s Day and a healthy brain!
ENRICH® is an all-in-one package that includes a brain health awareness effort, a cognitive assessment tool, a launching point for conversations with providers, and a guide to brain-healthy behaviors and cognitive exercise.