Dementia in women: let’s take action now to protect UK females

Research is vital to reduce the dementia toll for future generations

Dementia - the decline and loss of cognitive functioning - affects nearly 1 million people in the UK, however, two in three of those who are living with the condition are women. 

 In fact, Alzheimer’s Research UK - the UK's leading dementia research charity - has found that not only is dementia the leading cause of death for women, but that this has been the case since 2011. Plus its analysis shows that women are more likely to care for a loved one with dementia such as a partner or parent. Unfortunately, these women make up around two thirds of unpaid dementia carers in the UK. 

In the case of dementia, it seems as though women have managed to pull the short straw, as these statistics prove. 

To add even more disparity, across medical research, data from women is often missing, which can lead to results that only show part of the picture. And in the research labs, female dementia researchers are less likely to move into senior roles than men. Without senior women in research, we could be neglecting different perspectives that could help address this gender data gap.

Clearly it’s time to act, to help protect women’s health now, and for future generations. Because dementia affects both men and women, so it’s important that research benefits, and takes into account differences between, both genders.

More research into dementia can help to understand its causes, as well as develop treatments and uncover ways to reduce the risk, which could ultimately save lives. Involving more females in future dementia research, whether they do or don’t have the condition, will help researchers bring about life-changing treatments and ways to prevent dementia sooner.

So what’s being done? And, how can you support?

Alzheimer’s Research UK is urging the government to deliver on their Dementia Moonshot pledge, which was made in its 2019 election manifesto. Action needs to be taken and the disproportionate impact of dementia on women must be addressed.

The government pledge would double research funding to £160m a year and speed up the search for new treatments. But this promise has not yet been met.

While Alzheimer’s Research UK is urging the government to invest in priority research areas, you too can show your support. By donating or fundraising, you’ll be helping to fund research by Alzheimer’s Research UK, that could help transform the lives of people who are not only living with dementia, but also those who are caring for them, as well as future generations.

You can even take part in vital dementia research by registering with Join Dementia Research. Women, like yourself, are especially being urged to register, to help with life-changing studies, from online questionnaires through to clinical trials.

Alongside this, research has already shown that there are some simple steps that can help improve your brain health and lower the risk of developing dementia. Alzheimer’s Research UK’s brain health hub contains 40 practical tips to help protect your brain. You can even take the Brain Health Habits quiz to find out if you’re a heart health hero, mental gymnast or social superstar! 

Let’s take action NOW, to protect women from dementia and help deliver life-changing treatments.

Lucy Gornall is the former Health & Fitness editor at Future and a personal trainer specializing in pre and post-natal exercise.