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Alzheimer’s and Women: How to Protect Yourself

Women suffer from Alzheimer's at a far higher rate than men. Still, it's possible to take action to help decrease your odds of getting it


Imagine waking up one day and not recognizing the person sleeping next to you. Imagine thinking that you are in another time and not knowing where you are or remembering where you were going.

These are the symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and, by current estimates, more than nine million women will struggle with some form of it by 2050.

As the Mayo Clinic describes it, Alzheimer’s disease is a “progressive disorder that causes brain cells to waste away and die. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia — a continuous decline in thinking, behavioral and social skills that disrupts a person’s ability to function independently,” and according to a 2020 report by the Alzheimer’s Association, there are 5.8 million Americans currently living with Alzheimers. Of those, two-thirds are women.

Maria Shriver, the former first lady of California and a well-known and respected journalist, has been a long-time advocate for families dealing with Alzheimer’s. She is the founder of the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement or WAM, an organization she began while her ex-husband, Arnold Schwartzenegger, was Governor of California. She was personally impacted by Alzheimer’s when her father, the famous diplomat Sargent Shriver, was diagnosed and later passed away from the disease in 2011.

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