Memory Care: Is Alzheimer’s an inherited hereditary trait?
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and affects a large population in the world, and the disease gradually declines with time. There are several notable causes for this disease such as plaque buildup, damage to nerve cell connections and death of nerve cells. It is also believed that genetics are a factor for the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is categorized into two types based on when the symptoms begin to appear, as early onset and late onset Alzheimer’s. Both of these types are believed to contain a genetic affiliation. A permanent change known as a genetic mutation is the cause of early onset familial Alzheimer’s disease, and poses a higher risk of becoming hereditary compared to late onset Alzheimer’s. When an individual inherits this genetic mutation, it is highly likely that the individual will also suffer from the disease.
Why Is It Important to Understand The Nuances of Alzheimer’s
If you have a family member who is experiencing memory loss or a form of Alzheimer’s, understanding that each case can be different, or that even similar cases can affect different individuals in different ways, can help your family address the situation compassionately and ultimately make informed long-term care decisions.
Studies show the existence of both single gene and multi gene mutations among families that show Alzheimer’s disease.
These two inheritance patterns are quite different from each other and are associated with different kinds of inheritance. Among those who inherit Alzheimer’s disease, the most commoninheritance pattern is the complex (multi gene) pattern. It is a rare case for an individual who inherits Alzheimer’s to have a simple (single gene) inheritance pattern. This means that there is no predictable nature to the disease, and the disease may skip a generation, appear suddenly out of nowhere or do not pass on at all.
Presently, scientists have identified more than twenty variants in genes that can affect the risks of developing Alzheimer’s to various degrees.
These can be further divided into two types known as risk genes and deterministic genes. None of the risk genes directly cause Alzheimer’s disease, however, they slightly increase or decrease the chance of developing the disease by interacting with various other factors such as age and behavior patterns.
Deterministic genes on the other hand are guaranteed to cause the disease.
If this type of gene is inherited, the person will develop Alzheimer’s disease. Amyloid precursor protein (APP), presenilin-1 (PS-1) and presenilin-2 (PS-2) are three gene coding proteins that cause the disease. Familial Alzheimer’s disease is caused by this type of deterministic genes. This form of Alzheimer’s disease also goes by the name of autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease. The exception in this case is that the symptoms usually begin to appear around the age of forty to fifty years of age. This means that if you have a relative who developed Alzheimer’s disease in their 40s or 50s, there is a high likelihood that you may also be affected from the disease. However, there are only a few hundred families in the entire world that have been identified with the deterministic gene variant. If your relatives develop the disease at a much older age, this does not necessarily mean that you will inherit it but you are still at a risk of developing the disease just like the general population. It just means that you do not have the disease hereditary. It is always possible to reduce the risks by following proper lifestyle patterns.
How Memory Loss Affects Families
Memory loss can be an overwhelming issue for families to address. Being aware of the different forms of memory loss can be helpful in understanding how to help your family member’s particular memory loss condition. The care approach your family chooses will likely be determined based on conversations with their primary care physician and/or neurologist, whether they’re experiencing mild cognitive impairment, early onset Alzheimer’s, or late onset Alzheimer’s, and their individual reaction to their memory loss. In some cases, it may be determined that an assisted living community with a memory care program is either the best immediate care option, or will be a necessary long term care option in the future.
Our Memory Care Program in Ventura, CA
If you’re beginning to explore memory care options in the Ventura County area, please consider visiting Ventura Townehouse for a tour of our senior living community, or contact us for more information about our memory care program.
- Alzheimer's Society. (2017). Alzheimer's disease - Genetics of dementia - Alzheimer's Society. [online] Available at: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/info/20010/risk_factors_and_prevention/117/genetics_of_dementia/2 [Accessed 1 Dec. 2017].
- Bird, T. (2017). Alzheimer Disease Overview. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK1161/ [Accessed 1 Dec. 2017].
- Bekris, L. M., Yu, C.-E., Bird, T. D., & Tsuang, D. W. (2010). Genetics of Alzheimer Disease. Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology, 23(4), 213–227. http://doi.org/10.1177/0891988710383571