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Expert Blog

Alzheimer's Runs in My Family - What Can I Do?

August 3, 2012

My father had Alzheimer's, as did three of his four siblings and many of his eleven aunts and uncles. His own father died of injuries from a car wreck or we suspect he also would have suffered Alzheimer's. As you can guess, my cousins and I are concerned about what may lie ahead. Are we likely to get Alzheimer's? Is Alzheimer's inherited? What can we do?

Alzheimer's disease does run in some families, but it is not necessarily an inherited disease.

You could have dozens of relatives with Alzheimer's and never get it (like your dad's fourth sibling), or you could have no relatives with Alzheimer's and get it.

Whether or not Alzheimer's is in your family, the statistics are still sobering: if we live long enough, 40 percent of us will suffer Alzheimer's or dementia—affecting millions of loved ones.

Here are some things you can consider doing to help:

  • Follow developments about Alzheimer's, paying special attention to findings around prevention, especially exercise and diet. Signing up for the Alzheimer's Association e-newsletter is an easy way to stay abreast of advances in Alzheimer's treatments, care and research. This can be important since evidence suggests that individuals who exercise may get Alzheimer's disease later in life than those who do not. Social engagement and a heart friendly diet may also help lower your risk.
  • Enroll close living relatives with Alzheimer's or dementia in a University-based memory disorder clinic, where they can participate in clinical studies or trials and get very up-to-date care. You can find a helpful fact sheet on clinical studies and trials from the National Institute on Aging, as well as a database of clinical trials.
  • Advocate for more research dollars by writing your members of congress and supporting the local Alzheimer's Association. The research community may be our best hope.
  • Finally, I would try not to worry too much. Ultimately each of us lives one day at a time. Instead of stressing about a future you cannot predict or control, stay active, socially engaged, and enjoy your life! Hopefully Alzheimer's will not be in your future, and if it is research advances may end up giving you and your family some good news.

Thoughts and stories from others

  1. December 18, 2013 at 04:36 pm
    Posted by Anonymous

    I am more than sure there is something wrong with my grandmother. I started noticing something wasn't to right in 2010. I know for sure there is something wrong now. This disease has only gotten worse, her mother died from alzheimer's as well. My grandmother has became irritable and nasty with me, my brother, and my mother. She refuses to see a doctor, and I am praying to God that she will get help, soon.
  2. August 26, 2013 at 09:14 am
    Posted by Linda

    on my fathers side my grandmother and aunt have it. my father didnt get it because he died at 65. I'm 66 and wonder what I can do to prevent myself fom getting it. please help, I'm very worried abut this.
  3. June 22, 2013 at 01:13 am
    Posted by Stacie DD

    I am a generational Alzheimer caregiver. My Great Gma had it (didn't take care of her, but my Gma did), my Gma had it, I helped my parents care for her as a respit. Now, I have returned home for my Dad. He has been diagnosed and I will be being the primary caregiver to my parents. I will be needing help and some info to help stave off the inevitable.
  4. May 18, 2013 at 05:40 pm
    Posted by Beverley Denty

    My mother was just diagnosed with dementia.
  5. April 21, 2013 at 03:07 pm
    Posted by Brinda Rollman

    Wanting to learn more. My mom hasn't been diagnosed . But I think she has it. Wanted to learn there behavior . She accuse me of things like telling my brother and sister that I am kicking her out of her house . Then I get a phone calling from them asking what's going on. She repeats her self with in 15 min apart at least 4or5 times. Use to get in the car headed some where and forget where she is going. So go ring around instead. That's just some of it. So I really would like more information.

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