Caring for a senior loved one who has Alzheimer’s is difficult. For many caregivers, it can also raise a question that often remains unspoken: Am I going to get Alzheimer’s disease too? The role genetics can play in Alzheimer’s still isn’t known. What research does seem to indicate is that people with a parent or a sibling who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease may be at greater risk for developing it too.
Genetics and Alzheimer’s Disease
If you have a first-degree relative (a parent or a sibling) with Alzheimer’s disease, your risk for developing it can be higher. Some dementia experts believe that genetics may increase your risk can by as much as 30%. The older your family members were when the disease was diagnosed, however, the less likely it is that you will develop it.
Age remains the greatest Alzheimer’s risk factor. Once you reach the age of 65, your risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease doubles every five years. Researchers have been unable to determine for certain why that is.
Preventable Risk Factors and Alzheimer’s Disease
Despite the fact that we don’t know what causes the disease, researchers agree that there are a variety of Alzheimer’s risk factors that contribute to it. Some of those are controllable.
If you are concerned your genetics or lifestyle increase the odds that you will develop dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association Prevention and Risk Center may be of help. It contains information and resources on a variety of topics related to dementia hereditary factors and preventing Alzheimer’s disease. You can find articles on the role diet and exercise play in prevention, how staying social can protect cognitive function and other tips to help you give your brain a healthy workout.
Chronic Health Conditions that May Increase Your Alzheimer’s Risk
Other conditions that might increase your risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease include:
• High Cholesterol
• High Blood Pressure
• Cardiac Disease
By successfully managing these conditions, you may also be decreasing your risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.
The National Institute on Aging developed an online Alzheimer’s Prevention Guide that you might find beneficial. Among its many resources, the guide contains information on genetic testing for Alzheimer’s and prevention.