New Alzheimer’s center investigates why disease impacts more women than men

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Women with Alzheimer’s disease outnumber men three to one and researchers still don’t completely know why.

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but there is evidence that the brain disease could be delayed or possibly even prevented with certain lifestyle changes.

“Like everybody at age 63, you do forget a few things here and there,” said Debbie Morton who carries the gene for Alzheimer’s.

Morton, who lives in Park City, Utah, knows she could eventually lose her memory and more just like her father who lived with Alzheimer’s for 12 years.

“By the time he died at age 87, he had no words and he could just eat and walk,” she said.

That strong genetic risk moved Morton to sign up for the new Women’s Alzheimer’s Prevention Center at the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.

“We’re really looking for motivated women,” said Dr. Jessica Caldwell, Women’s Alzheimer’s Prevention Center.

Neuropsychologist Doctor Caldwell has spent years working to unlock the secrets of why women are more prone to the cognitive disorder. Age is the number one risk factor; women tend to live longer than men.

But Caldwell knows that age is just one piece of a complicated gender puzzle. There is also good evidence menopause and differences in lifestyle play a role. Women tend to be less active than men. Brain-related effects from other diseases could also play a role such as in the case of cardiovascular conditions.

This new prevention approach addresses all mental and physical areas of a woman’s life. A thorough evaluation including cognitive testing and visits with clinic specialists is used to chart a customized roadmap for healthier daily living.

“We aren’t just giving women a simple recommendation. we’re giving a comprehensive plan for women to change their lives and one year is where that starts,” Dr. Caldwell said.

Women of all ages — from 18 to 88 — from 33 different states have applied to this one-of-a-kind prevention center. Without a cure for Alzheimer’s, being able to delay it later in life or avoid it completely would be a victory.

“Just having someone who really knows me and knows my body and is following it and my brain throughout the course is very reassuring,” Morton said.

The center has funding for three years and hopes to see nearly 400 women during that time.

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