Age-related dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s disease, consists of a group of symptoms related to memory and thought. Common symptoms include difficulty with short-term memory, mood changes, aggression, and confusion.
While both men and women can develop dementia, the condition appears to affect women more often. However, research continues to uncover new information about how dementia affects older men.
Here are 5 statistics that provide important insight about dementia in men.
- Dementia risk actually may be equal between men and women.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, many studies have found no significant difference in the proportion of women and men who develop some form of dementia at any given age. Dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s disease, appears to be more prevalent among women. However, this may be due to a variety of factors, including life expectancy and overall health later in life.
- Men tend to have different dementia symptoms.
Each individual with dementia may demonstrate varying degrees of different symptoms. One study of 1,600 individuals found that men with dementia tended to have less common symptoms, possibly leading to fewer men being diagnosed with dementia.
The study found that men were less likely to show damage to the hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in memory. However, men were more likely to demonstrate aphasia, a condition related to language problems. They also showed more corticobasal degeneration, which can cause movement problems.
- Men with better cardiovascular health may be less likely to develop dementia.
One study points out that middle-aged men have a higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease compared to middle-aged women. Because of this, men who live to be older than 65 may be more heart healthy overall, lowering their risk of dementia compared to similarly aged women.
Because of this “survival bias,” the men who are included in studies of older adults tend to be healthier. Therefore, they may be at lower risk of developing dementia than the men who had already died of cardiovascular disease at an earlier age.
- Dementia symptoms progress more slowly in men.
In a Duke University Medical Center study, cognitive abilities of females with dementia declined twice as fast as those of males over an eight-year study.
The slower decline may lead to fewer men being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia until much later in life.
- Some genetic risk factors may be less harmful for men.
The same Duke University study noted that the difference in dementia progression among men and women was even stronger among participants who had the APOE-e4 genotype.
Studies have already connected this particular genetic variation to Alzheimer’s risk. Scientists are not yet sure why it may be a stronger risk factor for women, but it may be because of how the genotype interacts with estrogen.
Caring for a Loved One with Dementia?
Heritage Senior Communities offer specialized dementia care to provide for the needs of individuals with memory impairments. Contact us with any questions about dementia care or to schedule a tour.