Did you know that of the more than 5 million Americans diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, about two-thirds are women?
And did you know that 6.7 million women represent 60 percent of family caregivers to those living with the disease?
Maria Shriver has been making guest appearances on all the morning talk shows lately, making a case for The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Takes on Alzheimer’s, conducted in collaboration with the Alzheimer’s Association. For her, the fight is personal because women are disproportionately affected and her father had Alzheimer’s.
The statistics for women are daunting and can sound almost sound hopeless. This report connects depression, stress, and the early onset of type-2 diabetes to Alzheimer’s and, as Maria put it, this is the next fight for “women warriors.”
Women of the ELCA’s health initiative, Raising Up Healthy Women and Girls, is a way for us “women warriors” to get in the mix. A primary goal of the initiative is to educate women and girls so that today’s health issues are not repeated for generations to come.
Although The Shriver Report begins with gloom and doom, it is full of immediate actions:
1. Know the signs. The Alzheimer’s Association has developed a list of 10 early signs of the disease.
2. Know how much stress you are feeling. This is important because stress is connected to heart disease and higher blood pressure.
3. Connect with caregivers. Do more than offer assistance. Insist. Many women are juggling work, family, and care for those living with the disease. They may be too overwhelmed to ask for help or accept it at the first offering.
4. Talk to girls and younger women. Alzheimer’s is generally diagnosed after age 65, although warning signs can occur many years earlier. Studies suggest that better health habits early in life (12-20 years) would prevent or drastically reduce the onset.
5. Be a warrior. Get involved. Host a Healthy Heart Fair and let the action begin!