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A Global Perspective on the Impact of Dementia on Women

In March 2015 the World Health Organisation held its first Ministerial Conference on Global Action Against Dementia. Most countries, however, are a long way from really addressing the growing impact of dementia, and especially the impact on women. Dementia impacts women disproportionately. More women than men develop dementia, two thirds of family carers are women, and the care workforce – in care homes, hospitals and domiciliary care – is female dominated (87%).

A recent Alzheimer's Disease International report, supported by Red & Yellow Care and WomenAgainstAlzheimer's, looks at the current available research about women and dementia from an international perspective. Our report, Women and Dementia: A Global Research Review, discusses recent English language research and policy on the issues affecting women globally. We make recommendations that can be used by policy makers to address some of these issues. The full report can be found on the ADI website along with a helpful short summary.
Full report

Ironically, the existing research base is limited. Only 22 of the papers we reviewed related directly to women and dementia, and a further 38 looked at wider gender and dementia issues. Unsurprisingly, most research has been conducted in high-income countries, yet by 2050 over 70% of people living with dementia will be living in low- and middle-income countries. As present, we also don't know much about the long-term impacts of dementia on women, either as family carers or as dementia care workers.

Women and Dementia: A Global Research Review emphasises that dementia caregiving needs be viewed through a gendered lens, and worldwide National Dementia Strategies need to explicitly address the needs of women. The gendered pay gap in health and social care professions also needs to be addressed to ensure that the care workforce is properly remunerated for the important and challenging work they undertake. While ever cultural and societal expectations of women as carers remain, and therefore women are disproportionately impacted, the physical health, mental health and financial implications of dementia on women need to be front and centre stage in global efforts to provide the best possible care for people living with dementia.

Dr Rosie Erol, is Research Associate, Institute of Health and Society, University of Worcester, UK
Professor Elizabeth Peel, is Professor of Psychology and Society Change, Institute of Health and Society, University of Worcester, UK @profpeel
Professor Dawn Brooker, is Professor of Dementia Studies and Director of the Association for Dementia Studies, University of Worcester, UK @dementiastudies

Professor Elizabeth Peel, Professor Dawn Brooker and Dr Rosie Erol

Tags: research Written 2015-06-26

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