Is Alzheimer's hereditary, and am I at risk?

7 answers | Last updated: Nov 14, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

If Alzheimer's is hereditary and my parent has it, am I likely to develop it?

Expert Answers

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's. A Met Life Foundation Journalists in Aging fellow, she writes extensively about health and caregiving; four of her family members have had dementia.

Not necessarily. Having a parent, especially a mother, with Alzheimer's is a known risk factor. But this doesn't mean that you will automatically get the disease. The cause of Alzheimer's isn't known and the role of heredity is unclear.

There is a proven genetic link to certain kinds of relatively rare, early-onset Alzheimer's. A genetic test will reveal if you carry forms of the apolipoprotein gene, APOE4, which raises the risk of disease. But almost half of people who carry this gene do not develop Alzheimer's.

Even someone with a possible genetic link seems to be able to lower his or her odds of developing the disease through such lifestyle strategies as maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, keeping blood sugar and blood pressure in normal ranges, and staying socially active and intellectually stimulated.

Community Answers

Mfront59 answered...

This isn't a answer, rather a thought, If science can clone, then why can't they clone new brain cells from our own stem cells?

Jaque answered...

My mother, my eldest sister, my eldest brother all had Alzheimer's at age around 65 and all passed away before reaching 70. My two elder sister have passed the threshold of 70 without any sign of mental dementia. Unfortunately my closest sibling, my brother now 65 has already Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Drugs control his Parkinson's very well. I am 62 and obviously been preparing for Alzheimer's since I was 50. I have already discussed with my children of my drastic choices of going to a country where they will legally help exit me this life, if I reach a certain stage of Alzheimer's.

Meanwhile,I tried getting APOE4 test from a website. They never sent me a test kit. After I complained they returned my money.

Neither your answer, nor any Alzheimer's site lists, at-home saliva kit type of test labs of proven and reputable record. Why not put the links of the labs, cost, etc. for all of us? Google search was no help.

Phyllisjm answered...

This is a waste of time. The answer to everything, eating right and exercising when there is nothing else to say. My husband has dementia and still at 74 looks like he workds out daily. Never smoked, drank and was a professional white collar worker. I do not believe this one percent!

Jello answered...

My father use to say that when we are born it is decided when we die and what we die of. Otherwise it is all upto God.

A fellow caregiver answered...

Alzheimer’s disease is a disease marked by the loss of cognitive ability, general over a period of 10 to 15 years, and associated with the development of abnormal tissues and protein deposits in the cerebral cortex. It happens in mid-to-late adult life, destroying neurons and connections in the cerebral cortex and resulting in significant loss of the brains. Age is the biggest risk factor, but other risk may be involved, including a low level of education and significant head injury. Read more here

Disclaimer: I work at Relink which builds it.

Forever18 answered...

My Aunt has Primary Progressive Aphasia and Dementia. Dr. Said she is on the verge of Alzeheimers. This is heart wrenching to see her like this. After reading the above questions about testing, should i be tested for this disease? I am her niece, she is my mothers sister. ..