Two-thirds of the more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s are women, prompting even the National Institutes of Health to call the disease a “women’s health issue.” Stats like these may leave men believing they’re less at risk of developing Alzheimer’s. But when you dig deeper into the data, you see that the headlines tell only half the story.

In honor of Men’s Health Month, we’ve compiled some important facts about men and Alzheimer’s, plus tips on what men can do to reduce their Alzheimer’s risk.

Understanding Men’s Alzheimer’s Risk

Despite the disproportionate amount of women affected by the disease, recent studies suggest that sex does not affect one’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Instead, the disparity could be attributed to the fact that women have a longer lifespan than men. Women also tend to consult with their general practitioners more often than men, which could increase their rate of diagnosis.

One recent study about gender risk showed that the incidence rates of Alzheimer’s were the same for men and women in the United States.

Alzheimer’s Risk Factors

While there hasn’t been a direct link between Alzheimer’s risk and gender, men are more likely to engage in behaviors that could increase their chance of developing the disease, including:

  • Smoking

Compared to women, men are more likely to smoke cigarettes. Smoking increases the risk of vascular issues like strokes and bleeding in the brain, both of which are risk factors for dementia. One study suggested that as many as 14% of Alzheimer’s cases worldwide could be potentially linked to cigarettes. Other studies indicate the chemicals in cigarette smoke can cause inflammation and increased oxidative stress, which have both been thought to increase one’s Alzheimer’s risk.

  • Binge Drinking

Men are almost twice as likely as women to binge drink. Nearly a quarter of men say they binge drink (defined as consuming five or more drinks at once) five times per month, downing, on average, eight drinks per session. Binge drinking has been linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Heavy drinking can also lead to brain damage, which may increase your risk of developing dementia.

Men and Alzheimer’s: More Risk Factors

Men are also more likely than women to experience the following health conditions, which may increase their Alzheimer’s risk:

  • Early Onset Heart Disease

The heart is responsible for pumping nourishment-rich blood to the brain. Damage to this important organ has been linked to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s in both sexes. And men generally develop heart disease at a younger age than women.

  • Head Injuries

Over the course of their lifetime, men are more likely than women to experience a traumatic brain injury. Severe head trauma has been linked to increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s, especially among older adults. Even repetitive mild injuries have been linked to the development of cognitive issues later in life.

Alzheimer’s and Men: Reducing Your Risk

This Men’s Health Month, consider engaging in the following healthy habits, all of which may help decrease your Alzheimer’s risk:

  • Quit smoking. There is evidence that shows giving up cigarettes reduces your Alzheimer’s risk to the same level as a non-smoker’s.
  • Protect your heart. Work with your doctor to develop an exercise routine that will help keep your heart and vascular system strong. Eat heart-healthy foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Protect your head. Reduce your risk of head trauma by always wearing your seatbelt, motorcycle helmet and fall-proofing your home.
  • Stay engaged and connected. Maintaining strong social connections and staying mentally active have been linked to a lower risk of cognitive decline as we age.

Senior living communities in Florida offer programs and activities designed for staying active and engaged. Along with healthy dining options, fitness classes and social opportunities, congregate living is an excellent choice for men’s health.

For more information on Sonata’s senior living communities, call a community near you today to schedule a visit →

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