Alzheimer's hits women hardest, report finds

Alzheimer's hits women hardest, report finds
Angie and John Wallace
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Women are nearly twice as likely as men to develop Alzheimer's disease, according to new studies.

Researchers say women have a 1 in 6 chance of developing the disease at age 65 compared to a 1 in 11 risk for men. What's more, 70 percent of caregivers for Alzheimer's patients are women - a demanding job which takes a toll.

"When you're in your mid-50s, you're looking at retirement, and what's going to happen after you retire," said Angie Wallace of herself and her husband. "John and I had a whole plan. And all of a sudden, that was not going to happen."

John is 66-years-old and suffers from Alzheimer's, making Angie one of the more than 15 million people in the U.S. caring for someone with the disease.

It's a demanding job, both physically and emotionally.

"Women actually report that they are more likely to suffer from depression and stress than men in their caregiving role," said Dr. Maria Carrillo of the Alzheimer's Association.

Angie had to change the way she sees the relationship with her husband when she was thrust into the caregiver role. She now sees herself as a widow with a child.

She said that new outlook made the situation bearable because being a caregiver can be lonely and a great financial burden. Angie recently had to move John out of their home and into a private care facility, which costs more than half of her monthly salary.

"This one's private pay, so it's all on us. And I just don't know what's going to happen."

The monetary value of unpaid caregivers in the U.S. tops $220 billion.

The Alzheimer's Association also finds women caregivers are much more likely than men to switch from working full time to working part time or giving up their jobs entirely.