Variation by sex

Women are disproportionately affected by dementia, as reflected by a greater prevalence in all age groups, a higher burden of disease due to dementia and a higher proportion of deaths from dementia among women than men (see Population health impacts of dementia) (WHO 2022).

In this study, there were a similar number of men and women living with dementia in the community, however, the number of women living in residential aged care was double that of men (Figure 1.1), partly because women have a longer life expectancy than men, so are more likely to need care at older ages. To account for variation between men and women due to different age profiles, the following comments are based on age-standardised rates of service use.

Men and women had similar patterns of geographical variation in health service use. Overall, after adjusting for differences in age, women were more likely than men to be dispensed:

  • dementia-specific medications
  • antidepressants 
  • opioids.

After adjusting for differences in age, men were more likely than women to have:

  • polypharmacy
  • glucose regulating and cardiovascular medications dispensed
  • antipsychotics dispensed (in the community)
  • an emergency department visit
  • a hospital stay.

The age-standardised rates of use of other services were similar for men and women.


WHO (World Health Organization) (2022) A blueprint for dementia research, WHO, accessed 27 June 2023.