Elderly women are at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's, a new report concludes, with the neurological disease thought to present twice the chance of development than breast cancer. With more than 5 million people currently battling the condition and an anticipated 16 million by 2050, the long-term implications of Alzheimer's include enormous stress on carers, families of sufferers, and a huge fiscal burden on the healthcare system, costing around $9.3 billion last year. Female patients make up two-thirds of Alzheimer's sufferers.

The data, drawn from the Alzheimer's Association 2014 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures report, emphasizes the need for further research into the condition. If development of the disease follows the currently trajectory, it will incur costs of around $1.2 trillion per year by 2050. The report also points to the need for further education around the disease, with a staggering 24 percent of people thinking the disease is exclusively hereditary, and thus believing that they are only at risk of developing Alzheimer's if they have a family history of it.

Women over the age of 60 have a one in six chance of developing Alzheimer's, while men of the same age nearly half that with a one in 11 chance. The discrepancy is possibly exacerbated by the high numbers of female carers - comprising around 60% of the workforce - who find that round-the-clock caregiving of Alzheimer's patients leaves them feeling withdrawn and depressed. As a result of the added emotional and physical stress, around 20 percent of female carers alter their work schedules from full-time to part-time, compared to just 3 percent of male caregivers. The disease is fatal, with 15.5 million caregivers providing 17.7 billion hours of care, free of pay.  

"[W]e know that women are the epicenter of Alzheimer's disease, representing majority of both people with the disease and Alzheimer's caregivers. Alzheimer's Association Facts and Figures examines the impact of this unbalanced burden," said Angela Geiger, chief strategy officer of the Alzheimer's Association. She continued, noting the need for advancements in research and funding into the causes and treatment of Alzheimer's. "Well-deserved investments in breast cancer and other leading causes of death such as heart disease, stroke and HIV/AIDS have resulted in substantial decreases in death. Comparable investments are now needed to realize the same success with Alzheimer's in preventing and treating the disease." 

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