Dr. Shirley Newell – Women and Alzheimer’s

Dr. Shirley Newell, Chief Medical Officer at Aegis Living, discusses the disturbing connection between women and Alzheimer’s disease. Experts say after age 65, a woman has a better chance of getting Alzheimer’s than breast cancer. Dr. Newell is a leader in the assisted-living industry.

“It’s known that more women than men get Alzheimer’s. Your lifetime risk is about twice as high. As with men, it’s not just that women live longer, it’s as if there’s something fundamentally different about the physiology and the way their brains are wired. When women go through menopause, their estrogen levels fall, and it is thought that this may play a role in their development of dementia, but there is not clear evidence that replacing estrogen is really the solution. So at this point, there’s a lot of controversy on how to manage it and what to do about it.

I would reemphasize that the two major risk factors for Alzheimer’s are age and gender. And yes, they’re at increased risk but it’s like the serenity prayer. You have to control the things that you can control, so instead of worrying about “Am I going to get dementia?” or “What can I do to avoid it?,” you can try to focus on what you can do to make yourself healthier and promote the things that you know are good for you, that we have talked about, such as a healthy diet, exercise, meditation, good sleep and focusing on what is the effect of stress on brain function, and that is really a hot topic in neurobiology.”

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