Alzheimer Disease Research Center (ADRC)

Featured Q & A

John Danner, LCSW Answers Your Questions 

John Danner is a licensed clinical social worker with the USC Memory and Aging Center and welcomes your questions.  He often writes for the Memory and Aging Center E-Newsletter.

To contact John Danner, LCSW with a question, please email

Dear John,

My mother has been diagnosed with Dementia for about a year. She has no savings, has Medi-Cal, and receives In Home Support Services (IHSS). She now has 45 hours a month of help. I now realize that she can no longer be left at home. Last week she got distracted while cooking, left the kitchen and “took a walk” because she “thought” she recognized someone who walked by the house. A neighbor called the fire department.

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Helena Chui, MD Answers Your Questions

Dr. Chui's research focuses on brain-behavior correlations in dementia. Her publications have examined clinical heterogeneity, natural history, clinical diagnosis, and clinical-pathologic correlations in Alzheimer Disease (AD) and ischemic vascular dementia.

To contact Dr. Chui with a question, please email

Question 1:

Dear Dr. Chui,

Question: People are saying that women are more likely to get Alzheimer's than men.  Is this true?  What can you tell me about the research and science of women having a higher prevalence for Alzheimer’s disease than men (2 women for every 1 man)?

Chui's Answer: 

Women and men have similar incidence rates of AD, but because women have longer life expectancies than men, there are significantly more women than men with AD. 

Here is a more information about what these words mean:

  • Prevalence refers to the percentage of persons who have Alzheimer disease during a given survey period.  
  • Incidence refers to the number of persons who are newly diagnosed with AD during a given survey period.
  • Duration reflects how long a person lives after diagnosis of Alzheimer disease.
    Prevalence =  incidence  X  number at risk X  duration.
  • Although women and men have similar incidence rates of AD (Kukull et al.,Arch Neurol 2002), there are more women at risk for AD and women with AD live longer than men with AD.  Therefore, the prevalence of AD is much higher in women than men.

In fact, Life time risk (LTR) is a more useful metric (than incidence or prevalence) when a person is interested in their individual risk for AD.  Again, because of greater life expectancy of women than men after age 65 years, women are at higher lifetime risk of AD (about 17%) compared to men (about 9%). 



Question 2:

Dear Dr. Chui,

Someone who heard you speak at the Eisenhower Clinic in Palm Springs said you mentioned that Aricept probably works for 6-12 months and that’s it. Is that accurate?

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