Women are the biggest targets of Alzheimer's disease, says new report

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POSTED: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 9:52pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 10:04pm

A recent report out is revealing new insight into the Alzheimer's disease.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, women over the age of 60 have a 1 in 6 chance of getting Alzheimer's, while men have a 1 in 11 chance, and women are also twice as likely to get Alzheimer's than they are breast cancer.

Not only are women more likely to be diagnosed, the report also reveals they are more likely to be the full-time caregivers to a loved one with Alzheimer's. 

Yvonne Gaddy of El Paso took full-time care of her mother, Phyllis, for about 3 years after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2009.

But the responsibilities became just too overwhelming, and that's when the family decided to place Phyllis in the care of the Sun Ridge at Desert Hills Senior Living Center.

"I remember the first time that she forgot one of us. A brother had been in town and this was probably like 3 or 4 years ago, and when he left, she said 'Who was that man?' and that was a very sad moment for me," said Yvonne.

Some 5 million Americans are affected with Alzheimer's, and experts say that number is growing.

"It is an epidemic. It's an epidemic and it's crisis," said Susan Gorman with the Alzheimer's Association in El Paso.

"It's heartbreaking for the family to just watch their parent, it's almost as though they become a child again," said Yvonne.

She describes the commitment to being a caregiver to a patient with Alzheimer's as an "emotional rollercoaster."

"I was the good guy but I was also the bad guy. I was the one she went to for comfort but I was also the target of her anger. I was the target of blaming," said Yvonne.

"The medical costs for women who are caregivers are increasing as well because of the stress," said Gorman.

The monetary value of unpaid caregivers in the United States tops $220 billion.

The Alzheimer's Association encourages families affected to seek help and information so that they can better understand the illness, and how to interact with patients.

The organization provides that help for both caregivers and patients.

For more information, visit http://www.alz.org/westtexas/

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