Is Alzheimer’s Genetic?

Dementia and Occupational Therapy - Home caregiver and senior adult man

September is World Alzheimer’s Month, a month dedicated to raising awareness around Alzheimer’s disease, reducing the stigma around this diagnosis, and sharing resources and information to support patients and families. One question that many people ask is whether Alzheimer’s is a genetic health condition or not. Here’s some insight from our NJ in home respite care team.

Here’s What the Specialists Say

Currently, researchers believe that there is no single cause of Alzheimer’s, which is one of the reasons why it is so challenging to predict and treat. Genetics does play a role, and is one of the risk factors that scientists and doctors focus on. We have two types of genes that can increase our individual risk of Alzheimer’s’- risk genes (genes that increase your risk for a disease) and deterministic genes (genes that directly cause a disease). Alzheimer’s genes are present in both these gene types, with the apolipoprotein E-e (APOE-e4) risk gene factoring into 20-25% of Alzheimer’s cases. Inheriting this gene from one parent increases your risk, while inheriting it from both parents increases the risk further – but it still isn’t close to a certainty.

However, carrying these genes is a reason to be more aware rather than a reason to panic. Researchers studying the disease have found that less than 1% of Alzheimer’s cases are caused by deterministic genes.

What are the other Risk Factors?

Genetics are only one of several risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. The others include:

  • Age – As you enter your mid to late 60s, your risks of developing Alzheimer’s increases, doubling every 5 years from the age of 65. For individuals who reach 85, the risk is around 30% for developing the condition. 
  • Family history – While a family history of Alzheimer’s (especially if more than one direct relative has or had the condition) does increase your risk of Alzheimer’s, you can develop it even if you have no genetic history of the condition.

 There are also some risk factors that are within your ability to influence. There’s nothing we can do about our genetics, family history and age, but we can avoid increasing our risks by:

  • Reducing head injury risks – There’s a clear link between head injuries and dementia conditions, so it’s important to wear a seatbelt, use a helmet during sports or in high-risk occupations like working on construction sites, and fall-proofing your home when you are older.
  • Taking care of your heart and body – The healthier you are overall, the less likely you are to develop dementia conditions, not to mention other serious health conditions, so it’s a real win-win! Focus on maintaining your heart and physical health though eating nutritious, balanced meals, staying fit and active, keeping your brain stimulated, following through with health checkups, and quitting tobacco and excessive alcohol.

 Unfortunately, there is currently no way to prevent or cure Alzheimer’s and other dementia conditions, so the best we can do is reduce our personal risks and keep enjoying every day, living life to the full!

At Home Alzheimer’s Care in New Jersey – Senior Independent Home Care

United Methodist Community’s HomeWorks program is dedicated to safe, community-based care for the elderly through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, following strict health protocols at all times.

We prioritize the independence and wellbeing of seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia conditions, giving them the assistance and companionship needed to live full, high-quality lives. Our senior independent home care services include respite care, assistance with transport and meal preparation, as well as part-time or full-time skilled nursing care.

To find out how seniors home care services can help support your loved one’s independence and health, please contact us today.

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