Women with dementia receive less health monitoring and take more potentially harmful medication than men with dementia, says a study.
The Britain-based study found that women were at particular risk of staying on anti-psychotic or sedative medication for longer.
This might be because they have fewer appointments where their treatment can be reviewed, the study said.
“As women tend to live longer than men, they are more likely to live alone without a family carer to help them access healthcare,” said lead researcher Claudia Cooper from University College London.
“Perhaps because of this, they are more at risk of missing out on medical help that might help them stay well for longer. We found that women were more likely to be on psychotropic drugs — sedatives or anti-psychotics — which can be harmful in the long term and may not be appropriate,” Cooper said.
“Women tended to stay on such drugs for longer, perhaps because they have fewer check-ups to see if the drugs were still needed,” Cooper explained.
The researchers analysed the records of 68,000 dementia patients and 259,000 people without dementia to compare their access to healthcare services, using The Health Improvement Network (THIN) database.
Overall, people with dementia received less medical care than those without even though they are more vulnerable to physical and mental illnesses, showed the study published in the journal Age and Ageing.
Compared to men with dementia, women with dementia had lower rates of surgery consultations, of annual blood pressure monitoring and of annual weight monitoring .
Men with dementia were less likely to be taking psychotropic medication than women with dementia.
“Women with dementia who live on their own may need additional support accessing healthcare services,” Cooper said.
“Improving access to healthcare and reducing psychotropic drug use in people with dementia, especially women, could help them to live well with dementia for longer,” Cooper noted.