Frequently Asked Questions About Women and Alzheimer's Disease

It has long been known that women experience Alzheimer’s disease differently and with greater frequency than their male counterparts. In fact, two-thirds of clinically diagnosed cases of Alzheimer’s disease are women, with the longer female lifespan cited as the primary reason. Recent research has revealed there are other differences between the genders that may increase risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Women are nearly twice as likely as men to get Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia. In the United States, almost 4 million of the approximately 6 million people ages 65 and up living with Alzheimer’s are women. The chances that a 65-year-old woman will get Alzheimer’s during her lifetime is 1 in 5. For men, the odds are 1 and 10. To put things in perspective, consider this: A women now in her 60s is twice as likely to eventually develop Alzheimer’s disease than to get breast cancer.



The main reason more women than men get Alzheimer’s disease is that they tend to live longer – almost 6 years longer in the U.S. While aging alone doesn’t cause Alzheimer’s, it’s the number one risk factor for it.

But longevity may not be the only reason women are at higher risk. Studies show that even among people of the same age, women are more likely to get Alzheimer’s. We need more research to understand why, but some theories include:

  • Men who live to older ages tend to have good cardiovascular health, which helps protect against Alzheimer’s.
  • Declines in estrogen levels could contribute. Women’s bodies produce less of this hormone after menopause. But men’s brain cells can convert the male hormone testosterone into estrogen. So they don’t experience the same drop in estrogen levels.
  • Women’s stronger immune systems may mean they produce more amyloid plaques – clumps of protein that build up in the brain and are thought to play a role in Alzheimer’s. Some researchers think these plaques are part of the brain’s immune response.
  • Cultural reasons, such as participation in the workforce, might play a role. Research has shown that women who held paid jobs in their younger years had slower declines in memory later on.

While the disproportionate impact on women has been largely attributable to age, the latest research from 2022 reveals that differences in the brain may be partly responsible. A protein called “tau” has been found to spread more easily and widely in women’s brains, creating harmful tangles that are linked to dementia. Learn more about tau in this breakthrough study published by the National Institutes of Health.




The early warning signs of Alzheimer’s aren’t gender specific. They vary from person to person and tend to come on gradually. They may include:

  • Memory problems, ranging from losing track of dates to forgetting to pay bills.
  • Repeating questions
  • Losing things
  • Difficulty paying attention and concentrating
  • Getting confused when trying to do familiar tasks or activities
  • Mood or personality changes

Some forgetfulness is normal as we age, like having trouble thinking of the right word during a conversation. But with Alzheimer’s disease, your memory keeps getting worse, and the problems start to interfere with daily life.


Both women and men are likely to first have symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease when they’re in their mid-60s or older. Early-onset Alzheimer’s is rare, but it can affect people as young as in their 30s.


As you age, your chances of getting Alzheimer’s go up. Out of every 1,000 men and women, Alzheimer’s disease will be diagnosed each year in:

  • 4 people ages 65-74
  • 32 people ages 75-84
  • 76 people ages 85 and up



 Your genes are part of what determines whether you’ll get Alzheimer’s disease among other lifestyle risk factors. But there are things you can do to tip the odds in your favor:

  • Take care of your cardiovascular health. Conditions that harm your heart and blood vessels, like heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and stroke, raise your risk for all types of dementia. Get regular checkups, take medications as prescribed, and follow your doctor’s recommendations for lifestyle changes.
  • Protect your head. Head injuries are a known risk factor for dementia. Always wear your seatbelt in the car and use a helmet when you ride a bike. Eliminate potential fall hazards in your home and consider balance training exercises to reduce your risk of falling.
  • Adopt healthy lifestyle habits. Cut down on processed foods in favor of a diet rich in produce, nuts, beans, whole grains, and lean proteins. Do 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, like walking or biking, at least 5 days a week. Don’t smoke and limit alcohol intake.

According to brain scans, brain cells die more quickly in women with Alzheimer’s than in men with the condition. Women’s thinking and memory problems also tend to get worse faster, according to researchers. One reason for this may be that women are likely to be diagnosed in later stages of Alzheimer’s.

Doctors usually use a verbal memory test, in which you’re asked to repeat a list of words back to them. But women tend to be better at verbal memory tasks then men. So they sometimes perform well on these tests even when they’re in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

Not only are women more likely to have Alzheimer’s, they’re also more likely to act as an unpaid caregiver for a loved one with the condition. More than 60% of those who care for someone with dementia are women. And about 19% of female Alzheimer’s caregivers have had to quit a job because of their caregiving responsibilities.

While there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s, there is a drug that could slow the condition’s progress in both women and men. Aducanumab (Aduhelm) targets a protein that makes up the amyloid plaques that build up in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. Leqembi is a new category of medication approved by the FDA in January 2023.

Several other drugs can temporarily ease problems with memory and thinking or keep them from getting worse. They affect chemicals that help nerve cells in your brain communicate.

Medications can also treat behavior symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia like agitation, anxiety, and aggression. But before considering drugs, dementia care experts recommend trying other ways to manage behavior. For example, changes in the environment that make daily life easier for a person with Alzheimer’s could ease agitation.

Researchers are looking into whether hormone replacement therapy might reduce women’s risk for dementia, but there is much to learn about the relationship between women and Alzheimer’s disease. So far, studies have had conflicting results.




A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t mean you can’t continue to lead a fulfilling life. Here are some things people who have the condition say are important to their quality of life:

  • It may be harder for them to communicate it. But people with dementia enjoy interactions and affection from friends, family members, caregivers, and others.
  • A safe and secure environment. People with Alzheimer’s may need changes to their home environment to keep them from getting injured or lost. A space that’s safe, peaceful, and feels familiar helps give them a sense of security.
  • Physical health. It’s important to get regular medical attention and make sure any other conditions are treated. Other health conditions can make dementia symptoms worse.
  • A sense of independence. Making some of their own choices and performing daily tasks as possible (perhaps with some support) helps people with Alzheimer’s feel useful and valued. Memory care communities in Florida help people with Alzheimer’s and dementia remain independent for as long as possible.


Memory care assisted living communities are a form of long-term care specially designed for people with memory impairment related to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. People with dementia are often challenged by large, unstructured spaces that have a high quantity or people sharing the space. A more successful building design for memory care consists of intimate neighborhood floor plans that integrate the latest safety and security technologies while creating more opportunities for residents to maintain more freedom of choice. In Florida, a license is required to deliver memory care and caregivers are required to have extra training.

Memory care assisted living facilities in Florida must be licensed by The Agency for Health Care Administration, Bureau of Health Facility Regulation. In addition to a standard license, there are essentially three additional types of specialty licenses that permit providers to provide personal care and limited nursing services.

Licensed assisted living providers who provide memory care are responsible for ensuring that dementia caregiver training requirements are met. Some memory care communities, including Serenades Memory Care by Sonata, have gone above and beyond the state requirements to ensure the highest level of care for their residents. Serenades also provides caregivers with specialized training in its signature Duets program, which uses the positive effects of music to improve memory, cognition and mood.

The symptoms and behaviors associated with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia can often lead to unsafe conditions at home. Memory care communities are purpose-built for safety and freedom using innovative design solutions that have been proven to improve quality of life. Serenades For Her Memory Care provides unrestricted yet secure access to both indoor and outdoor areas to reduce agitation and frustration while improving physical fitness and emotional well-being. Double-barrier monitored exits, GPS devices, motion sensors, glare-free and amber lighting, even anti-skid flooring are built into the space to empower residents to use their retained abilities in a safe and secure environment.

All the features of a memory care community are specially engineered to empower people with memory impairment through self-awareness. The architecture, programming, and care help people with memory challenges maintain independence and dignity in a safe and supportive environment. While conventional assisted living communities may offer supportive services, the caregivers at Serenades For Her Memory Care are specially trained to understand and treat the symptoms of a progressive brain disease like Alzheimer’s.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are progressive, meaning symptoms become increasingly pronounced over time. Purpose-built memory care communities like Serenades For Her offer services that treat and manage the symptoms and behaviors of progressive brain disease at all stages. At Serenades Memory Care, residents in the early stages, or GEMS® states, benefit from dementia-friendly activities and Teepa Snow’s nationally renowned Positive Approach To Care® programming. Residents in the later stages of dementia benefit from 24-hour care and supervision. Talk to your doctor to find out if you or your loved one qualify for memory care services.

The science behind gender differences offers profound implications for the future of memory care and is the driving force behind an innovation called Serenades For Her. This new and exclusively female memory care community emphasizes a woman’s need for the utmost in privacy and comfort in daily living. All-female memory care combines robust social programming and activities to create a sense of sisterhood, enduring friendships, and mutual support among women with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Women experience Alzheimer’s disease and dementia differently and with greater frequency than men. An innovative new concept in memory care, Serenades For Her features all-female neighborhoods to simplify life for the both the resident and her loved ones, providing a greater degree of gender-specific privacy and giving family members increased peace of mind.

All-female neighborhoods create a robust social environment in which women can revel in a newfound sense of sisterhood, enduring friendships, and mutual support. Activities support social interaction tailored to female preferences, including art, music, culture, food, games, and group exercise. Dining and family room environments are also exclusively designed for women to emphasize community and social interaction.

Architectural features and furnishings have been softened and a more feminine color palette and décor aimed at evoking a sense of comfort and serenity. Amenities, too, have a distinctly feminine appeal such as an onsite salon, nail bar, and spa. A secure outdoor courtyard and garden fulfill her desire for communion with the natural world.


An innovative new concept in memory care, Serenades For Her caters to a woman’s need for the utmost privacy and comfort. All-female neighborhoods feature robust social programming with specialized dementia care to create a sense of sisterhood and mutual support for women.