In Toronto today, experts at the first Women’s Brain Health Academic Symposium will explore why women are twice as likely as men to develop Alzheimer’s disease. While researchers are speculating that a drop in oestrogen levels after menopause may be a factor, it may also be the lack of brain or cognitive reserve that is built up throughout ones working life.
Think about this – once tasks are learned and completed by rote or ‘auto-pilot’, the brain is no longer challenged to think and grow. Many of the traditional tasks completed by women are tasks learned when young, from housekeeping to secretarial functions, and excelled at without a continuous push to learn new and different material. When work is comfortably within ones’ competence, it does not provide the stimulation required to create new synapses. Thus the brain may be more susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease. This may be one social factor that accounts for the increased number of women suffering from it.
A while ago, just before the death of my grandfather (he actually died of a stroke at one of my cousin’s hockey games that led to a coma), I was talking to him on the phone and halfway through the conversation he forgot who I was and thought I was some random girl (I’m a guy). Such a tragic condition but unfortunately it is difficult control. To all those suffering or know a friend or family member who has fallen prey to this, may peace and love be with you and guide your soul through eternity.