Men and Dementia: Mary and Joe’s Story Part 3
Welcome back to Mary and Joe’s Story.
Why does Doggies for Dementia publish blogs like this?
Part of our mission to provide education for those impacted by cognitive issues. In addition to video programs with experts to answer a variety of questions for caregivers, we also raise awareness to help reduce the profound and painful stigma associated with dementia. This week we talk about Joe and Mary as Joe shows some signs of cognitive decline.
Joe’s Risks of Developing Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Forms of Dementia
Let’s begin with a brief review of Mild Cognitive Impairment and Joe’s risks of developing Alzheimer’s Disease, especially with a diagnosis of Mild Cognitive Impairment.
What is Mild Cognitive Impairment?
- Joe’s chance of developing Alzheimer’s Disease is lower than it would be if he were female. On average, a 65 year old man has a 6.3% risk of developing AD during the remainder of his life compared to women who have a 12% chance of developing AD. His risk is about half of Mary’s based on age and sex. Some researchers believe this is because women live longer than men, on average. Sex related effects lower Joe’s risk also.
- Joe smokes and has for many years. Any habit which is unhealthy for our body, is unhealthy for our brain and has the potential to increase risk of Alzheimer’s Disease as well as other forms of dementia. Poor eating habits, elevated cholesterol and other lipids, decline in exercise and failure to challenge the brain by learning new things regularly all increase one’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease and other types of dementia.
- Joe is married and healthy relationships are protective benefits for men and women. Connection with others is a basic spiritual NEED and the power of good relationships cannot be overlooked. We all learned a little bit about this during the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Men typically experience a slower rate of decline than women. However, men do not survive for as long as women after diagnosis. This might be because women tend to live longer than men and men are typically diagnosed later in the course of the disease. It is believed that the course of Alzheimer’s disease is 10 years or more from onset of symptoms. This is why early diagnosis is so important. Lifestyle changes can make a big difference especially when started early on.
- Men may be more difficult to care for at home. He is likely bigger in size than his wife, and may need help with balance, transfers and such. Men with AD are more likely than women to develop combative and aggressive expressions of emotion. If Joe becomes agitated, caring for him may become physically and emotionally challenging for Mary. Remember Joe struggled with showing weakness, and in their relationship, he managed a significant part of the household-paying bills, managing finance and so on. Having Alzheimer’s Disease doesn’t mean he isn’t aware of what is going on. We aren’t sure how he perceives things (are we ever sure, even without Alzheimer’s Disease?) however his basic view of himself will no doubt be challenged and this isn’t easy for any of us.
- Joe’s wife will likely become his caregiver, if his mild cognitive impairment worsens. In many ways, she has already become his caregiver. Some distinguish between caregiver and care partner.
Caregiver or Care Partner
Are you interested in hearing more stories? Carmen Davailus, the founder of Doggies for Dementia followed 13 families for 2+years and wrote their stories, including portraits. You can find it HERE.
About Doggies for Dementia:
Doggies for Dementia is a 501c3 corporation with a mission to provide beautiful experiences and memories for those impacted by dementia using photography. We are also advocates with sights on raising awareness through education, so nobody has to experience the pain of stigma, isolation and loneliness.
Our YouTube Channel: Experts Dig in with Doggies for Dementia is our program with interesting and informative interviews with experts from all realms including family members and professional caregivers. Check it out HERE.
Our headquarters is in central Texas near Austin, however we travel AND are seeking volunteer photographers in other states.