Women’s superior verbal memory could mask early stages of Alzheimer’s

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For small audiences living with dementia
July 12, 2018

Women’s superior verbal memory could mask early stages of Alzheimer’s

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Research presented at Alzheimer’s Association International Conference has shown that throughout life, women have better verbal memory than men, but suggest that this could be masking the early stages of Alzheimer’s and delaying diagnosis.

Verbal memory involves remembering words, lists and verbal items such as stories. The research showed that women retain better verbal memory, not only during normal ageing, but also during early stage dementia.

As verbal memory tests, such as remembering word lists and stories, are often used in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, researchers sought to understand the differences between male and female verbal memory and brain ageing to help improve diagnoses.

Dr Tim Shakespeare, Research Information Manager at Alzheimer’s Society, says: “Women are disproportionately affected by dementia globally and 65% (of those affected) in the UK are female.

“Women tend to have a better memory for things like lists and short stories – known as verbal memory – throughout their lives. The study suggests that this stronger recall in women may mask early symptoms of dementia. Taking this into consideration could help identify dementia early on, so women don’t slip through the dementia diagnosis net.

“Research suggests that when we have new treatments, they will be more effective in the early stages. A timely diagnosis also allows the person access to vital care and support. Which is why we have long campaigned for everyone to have equal access to a diagnosis, regardless of their gender, race, age or postcode, and we will continue to build on our work with the government to make sure this happens.”

To find out more about dementia and Alzheimer’s, visit: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/