Middle-aged women have a better memory than men. They also process information faster than men. In the years that follow, however, both cognitive functions decline faster in women. This has been shown by research conducted by RIVM and VU Amsterdam.
Both in the Netherlands and worldwide, women continue to be more affected by age-related dementia than men. Dementia affects functions such as memory and the speed of information processing. These functions usually decline steadily long before dementia sets in. For this research, these functions were measured in 10,000 men and women aged 45 and above over a period of 20 years. Data of the Doetinchem Cohort Study and the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam were used.
Male-female differences may become smaller in the future
Among participants born later (roughly after World War II compared to before), women have a greater advantage in terms of memory and the speed of information processing. One reason for this is that the level of education in the past decades has been higher, especially among women. Because of these relatively higher cognitive reserves in women, it is possible that, in the future, dementia will no longer occur more frequently in women than in men.
The results of the study have been published in the scientific journal Gerontology.