Women hit hardest by dementia epidemic

Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia currently affect around 88,000 people in Scotland. Picture: Contributed

Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia currently affect around 88,000 people in Scotland. Picture: Contributed

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WOMEN are being hit hardest by the dementia epidemic that is sweeping through Britain, a study by Alzheimer’s Research UK has found.

The illness is not only the leading cause of death among British woman, but they are also far more likely to end up as carers of those with dementia, according to a study.

Famous female sufferers include Irish-born author and philosopher Irish Murdoch and former UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher, whose daughter Carol described the condition as “frightening”.

Scots TV presenter Sally Magnusson has also written about her mother, pioneering Express journalist Mamie Magnusson’s devastating descent into ­dementia.

Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia affect around 88,000 people in Scotland and last year Scotland’s NHS spent £8.3 million on drugs to manage the condition.

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Hilary Evans, director of external affairs at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Dementia has a devastating impact on all those whose lives it touches, but it’s a ‘triple whammy’ for women – more women are dying of dementia, more women are having to bear the burden of care and more women working in dementia research are leaving science.

“The experiences of these women underline the urgent need to tackle the diseases that cause this life-shattering condition. In recent decades we’ve seen increased investment in areas like cancer have a real impact, and we need to emulate that success for dementia.

“Only through research can we find ways to treat and prevent dementia, and transform the lives of the hundreds of thousands affected.”

Dementia – and related conditions which were established as the leading cause of female fatalities for the first time in 2012 – was cited in 41,112 deaths among both sexes last year.

It is the third most common cause of death for males in the UK.

The report, which will be published next month at the Women of the World Festival, highlights the huge toll of dementia on women in the UK.

It found that more than 500,000 women are affected by dementia, whereas about 350,000 men have the condition.

Despite this there is only one dementia researcher for every six working on cancer.

Women over 60 are now twice as likely to get dementia as breast cancer.

And women are more than two-and-a-half times more likely than men to provide intensive, 24-hour care for people with the illness.

Alzheimer’s Research UK, also announced a new £30m Drug Discovery Alliance, launching three flagship Drug Discovery Institutes at the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford and UCL (University College London).

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