With the increased life expectancies, the number of the elderly over the age of 90 is rising worldwide. A paper published in the journal, Neurology, focused on a specific study of dementia rates in the very old. Performed in California with over 900 participants, it has shown that there are differences based on gender in risks of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease (AD) for men and women over the age of 90. For women, the chances of developing dementia double by five year increments after 90 years of age, which confirmed the fact that women over 90 are at a greater risk of dementia than men in the same age group. In dementia populations over 90 years of age, only 28 percent of men have dementia, whereas 45 percent of women suffer from the disease. However, the study has revealed that women who had consistently used their brains during their life and had received a higher education had less of a chance of developing dementia compared to those who did not have that benefit. The knowledge that women are at a greater risk than men in developing heart disease or stroke with age, both of which act as independent risk factors for dementia and intensify the symptoms of AD, may be beneficial in understanding why women over 90 are at more risk. In addition, research has shown that Alzheimer’s is also negatively affected by vascular factors, as the work Roskamp Institute scientists’ showed that vasculature damage increases in presence of amyloid. Vascular risk factors are found more frequently in women as they age, and patients in the earlier stages of AD receive a greater neurological impact than normal individuals from vascular damage. Roskamp Institute scientists are using these pieces of information along with other knowledge in order to develop new treatments for dementia.

For more details on this study, as well as additional information on Alzheimer’s disease, please visit



Wendy Liu

July 27, 2012