Can Alzheimer’s Disease Be Prevented
As the exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is not clear, there’s no known way to prevent the condition.
But there are things you can do that may reduce your risk or delay the onset of dementia, such as:
- staying physically fit and mentally active
These measures have other health benefits, such as lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease and improving your overall mental health.
Read more about preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
Family History By The Numbers
Studies of family history say that if you have a close relative who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s diseasethe most common form of dementia in older adultsyour risk increases by about 30%. This is a relative risk increase, meaning a 30% hike in your existing risk.
If you are age 65, the risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is 2% per year, although this also means a 98% chance per year of not developing Alzheimer’s. In absolute numbers, a 2% annual risk means that two out of 100 65-year-olds will develop dementia every year.
Family history raises the 2% annual risk by about 30%, to 2.6% per year. That means going from 20 cases in a group of 1,000 to 26 in 1,000, or six additional cases in 1,000. “So the absolute increase is relatively small,” Dr. Marshall says.
Age raises the chance of Alzheimer’s more than family history. People in their 70s have a 5% chance of being diagnosedmore than twice that of people in their 60s. Family history raises this by 30%, from 5% to 6.5%. Again, the absolute change is relatively small.
What Are The Causes Of Young
The causes of young-onset dementia are similar to the diseases that usually cause dementia in older people. However, some causes, such as frontotemporal dementia , are more common in younger people. Dementia in younger people often has different symptoms, even when its caused by the same diseases as in older people.There is more information about some common causes of dementia, and how they can affect younger people, below.
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Getting An Accurate Diagnosis
â with young onset is that dementia is not something that they think about initially. If youâre a woman, the first thing they think about is menopause and depression and anxiety and panic and sleep disorders and all those kinds of things.â â Faye, from Windsor Junction, Nova Scotia. Faye lives with young onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Diagnosing dementia can be a long and complicated process. For younger people, itâs even more complicated and frustrating. Healthcare providers are often reluctant to diagnose dementia in someone so young, and itâs common for a person who has young onset dementia to be misdiagnosed with another condition, such as depression.
As a a result, the person living with young onset dementia may not get the appropriate knowledge, treatment and support to fight the disease.
What Is Alzheimer Disease
Alzheimer disease, which affects some older people, is different from everyday forgetting. It is a condition that permanently affects the brain. Over time, the disease makes it harder to remember even basic stuff, like how to tie a shoe.
Eventually, the person may have trouble remembering the names and faces of family members or even who he or she is. This can be very sad for the person and his or her family.
It’s important to know that Alzheimer disease does not affect kids. It usually affects people over 65 years of age. Researchers have found medicines that seem to slow the disease down. And there’s hope that someday there will be a cure.
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Healthnew Way Of Defining Alzheimers Aims To Find Disease Sooner
It might not be that having more children is better, however. Last week, a team in South Korea found that women who had five or more children had a higher risk of Alzheimers.
Estrogen levels double by the eighth week of pregnancy before climbing to up to 40 times the normal peak level, Dr. Ki Woong-kim of Seoul National University, who led the study published in Neurology, said in a statement.
If these results are confirmed in other populations, it is possible that these findings could lead to the development of hormone-based preventive strategies for Alzheimers disease based on the hormonal changes in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Between 5 million and 6 million Americans have Alzheimers, according to the Alzheimers Association. Theres no cure, although drugs on the market can mask the symptoms for a while.
Its important to understand the risk of Alzheimers in women, said Maria Carrillo, chief science officer at the Alzheimers Association.
More women than men have Alzheimers disease or other dementias almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimers are women, Carrillo said.
Medicaid Programs That Pay Family Members
Medicaid is a nationwide program but its benefits, eligibility requirements and other rules are state specific. In most, but not every state, Medicaid offers at least one program that can be used to pay family members for their caregiving efforts. There are several different types of Medicaid programs through which a family member might be compensated. Readers should be aware that compensation might not always refer to cash compensation.
Types of Medicaid Programs
1) Medicaid Waivers
The most common way family members are compensated for caregiving is through Medicaid Home and Community Based Services Waivers . Most, but not all, states offer HCBS Waivers. As the name indicates, services are provided in the home and community. This is ideal for those with dementias who do not require 24-hour supervision and prefer to remain living in their home. Many HCBS Waivers allow for consumer direction, also called self-direction. This means when it comes to choosing a personal caregiver, the Medicaid beneficiary can self-direct or choose whomever they want. They can choose a family member, often an adult child or sometimes even a spouse to assist them with everyday tasks. This might include helping the senior with dementia pick seasonally appropriate clothing to wear, reminding him or her of doctor appointments and providing transportation, choosing and preparing healthy meals, and doing laundry and light housecleaning.
3) Adult Foster Care
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Genetic Causes Of Dementia
One rare form of Alzheimers disease is passed from generation to generation. This is called Familial Alzheimers disease . If a parent has a mutated gene that causes FAD, each child has a 50% chance of inheriting it. The presence of the gene means that the person will eventually develop Alzheimers disease, usually in their 40s or 50s. This form of Alzheimers disease affects an extremely small number of people probably no more than 100 at any given time among the whole population of Australia.
Three genes have been identified which, if mutated in certain ways, will cause FAD. These are called presenilin 1 , presenilin 2 and the amyloid precursor protein gene on chromosome 21.
How To Facilitate Intergenerational Interactions
While you might not be able to combine the care of people with dementia and childcare facilities on a daily basis, there are some things you can do to encourage these interactions to occur more frequently.
- Own or direct a daycare? Get permission from the parents and regularly visit a facility that cares for people with dementia.
- Have dementia care staff members with children? Encourage them to stop by with their kids to visit.
- Live near a facility or know someone who has dementia and lives in her own home? Stop by with your children and spread some joy.
- Have a loved one with dementia in a facility or at home? Ask family members with kids to bring them with on short visits, rather than arranging for a sitter at home. Allow extra time for short visits to other residents at the nursing home.
- Teach at a school that’s near a care facility? Contact the activity director to set up regular visits with the students.
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What To Do If Someone In Your Family Is Diagnosed With Alzheimer’s
Contact the Alzheimer’s Association . Find out about resources available to help you and your family. State and county agencies may also be able to help.
Plan for the future. This includes legally designating someone to make health care and financial decisions for the affected person when he or she can’t.
Investigate long-term care options. Nursing care is expensive, and finding a good place can take time. Start early.
Take care of physical health. People with dementia who live a healthy lifestyle tend to progress more slowly to the later stages.
Steer away from genetic testing. Even if you have the APOE Alzheimer’s risk gene, it usually doesn’t mean you will develop dementia later in life.
Are Childhood Alzheimers And Childhood Dementia The Same
Childhood Alzheimers and childhood dementia might sound like they describe the same condition. But just like Alzheimers and dementia are two separate conditions in adults, childhood dementia is a separate condition from childhood Alzheimers.
Childhood dementia is caused by a group of conditions called neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis . When a child has NCL, proteins, and lipids build up in their body and lead to decline.
Like childhood Alzheimers, NCL is fatal. Children often die when theyre between 10 and 15 years old.
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Involve Kids In Caregiving
The extent of a childs involvement in caregiving mainly depends on their age and where their elder lives. If a grandparent with Alzheimers lives with you or close by, then there is bound to be more opportunity for participation in their care. Letting children play a role in daily routines can help them get more comfortable with the changes in behavior brought on by Alzheimers.
Remember, help comes in many different forms. At home, young children can assist their grandparents with household chores, such as dusting, setting the table or raking leaves. If the grandparent lives in a senior living facility, kids can be a meaningful source of companionship. Plan simple activities they can do together, such as listening to music, playing games, or doing puzzles or crafts during visits.
Elder care expert Carol Bradley Bursack found ways of including her two sons in caregiving when her father came out of a failed brain surgery with dementia. He was unable to care for himself and plagued by hallucinations and delusions, so the decision was made to place him in a nursing home. The whole family struggled to make sense of this sudden and drastic change, especially her boys who were young teenagers at the time.
People Affected By Dementia Are Often Concerned About Whether The Condition Can Be Passed Along In Families
Here we discuss the role of heredity in Alzheimers disease and other forms of dementia.
Dementia is the term used to describe the symptoms of a large group of illnesses which cause a progressive decline in a persons functioning. It is a broad term to describe a loss of memory, intellect, rationality, social skills and what would be considered normal emotional reactions. Alzheimers disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 50% to 70% of all cases of dementia. It occurs relatively frequently in older people, regardless of family history. For females aged 65 to 69 years dementia affects 1 person in 80 compared to 1 person in 60 for males. For both males and females aged 85 and over the rate is approximately 1 person in 4.
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What Causes Alzheimer Disease
Lots of research is being done to find out more about the causes of Alzheimer disease. There is no one reason why people get it. Older people are more likely to get it, and the risk increases the older the person gets. In other words, an 85-year-old is more likely to get it than a 65-year-old. And women are more likely to get it than men.
Researchers also think genes handed down from family members can make a person more likely to get Alzheimer disease. But that doesn’t mean everyone related to someone who has it will get the disease. Other things may make it more likely that someone will get the disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Down syndrome, or having a head injury.
On the positive side, researchers believe exercise, a healthy diet, and taking steps to keep your mind active may help delay the start of Alzheimer disease.
Teach Dementia Care Techniques
When Lueckenotte was a child and her grandmother experienced hallucinations and delusions, the prevailing dementia care philosophy was to offer corrections and bring patients back to reality. However, our understanding of Alzheimers disease and how to interact with dementia patients has changed a great deal since then. Instead of reorienting patients, validation and redirection are the preferred techniques for handling difficult behaviors.
If grandma thinks she is at the family farm in Kansas, correcting her or arguing with her only causes more confusion, fear and anger, Lueckenotte says. Park your reality at the curb, and enter theirs. If they claim to see purple dancing elephants in the room, then you see purple dancing elephants, too.
Again, drive home the fact that grandmas brain isnt working properly and is causing her to see and believe things that are not real or true. Explain to kids that validation is an opportunity for them to use their imaginations and see the world through grandmas eyes.
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There Is No Cure But For Some Patients Treatments Are On The Horizon
Unfortunately, no pill or surgery can reverse symptoms. Its extremely hard to treat genetic brain diseases, says Dr. Walkley. Its hard to know which metabolic pathways to alter to prevent a disease thats ongoing in the brain. In the case of patients with an NPC-1 mutation, cyclodextrin appears extremely promising as a way to control the disease. Its not the perfect treatment, but its a major step forward, says Dr. Walkley. Injected into the spine, the drug seems to halt the diseases progression and stabilize the condition. He believes the treatment could be available soon.
A couple of treatments for MPS III show promise, but theyre still years away from FDA approval. Among the two furthest along, says Dr. Dickson, is a form of gene therapy and a form of enzyme therapy.
Who Should Tell Children About A Dementia Diagnosis
Dementia affects everyone individually. Depending on how they are affected by their condition, the person with dementia may be able to talk about this directly with the child or young person. The person may still need support in talking to the child or young person, and it might be helpful if you are there when the conversation takes place.
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How Is Childhood Alzheimers Treated
Theres no cure for either type of childhood Alzheimers, and there have been no proven treatments.
Since there are no treatments for this disease itself, a plan of care will likely focus on the symptoms and making sure the child has the highest possible quality of life.
For example, if a child is having trouble swallowing due to childhood Alzheimers, they might benefit from a special diet of food that has been chopped up or pureed for for easier swallowing.
Other professionals, such as physical and occupational therapists, can help with balance, motor skills, and muscle weakness. Speech therapists can help teach them to safely swallow foods and liquids.
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We are intrigued by the possibility that pregnancy may reorganize the mothers body in ways that could protect her against developing Alzheimers later in life, Molly Fox, a behavioral scientist at the University of California at Los Angeles who led that study, said in a statement.
Snyder said the findings may point researchers to where they need to do more study. Is it something about being pregnant?” she asked. “Is it something about stress of miscarriage?
But there are other indications that hormones or general health may play a role.
Women who started puberty later had a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Women who started menstruating at age 16 or later had a 31 percent higher risk compared with those who started at 13, the average age.
And those who entered menopause early, before age 45, had a 28 percent higher risk.
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Other Rare Types Of Dementia
Other rare types of dementia that can be passed down through the family include Huntingtons disease and Familial Prion disease. These diseases have a 50/50 chance of being passed on because they are caused by a single faulty dominant gene.
This means that, if you inherit a healthy gene from one parent and a faulty gene from the other parent, the faulty one will always be the one that is used because its the dominant gene.
How Alzheimer’s Disease Is Treated
There’s currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but medicines are available that can help relieve some of the symptoms.
Various other types of support are also available to help people with Alzheimer’s live as independently as possible, such as making changes to your home environment so it’s easier to move around and remember daily tasks.
Psychological treatments such as cognitive stimulation therapy may also be offered to help support your memory, problem solving skills and language ability.
Read more about treating Alzheimer’s disease.
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Explaining Dementia To Children And Young People
When a close family member or friend develops dementia, children and young people need support. Think about who should tell them, and what and when you should tell them. You may need to help them understand what dementia is, and what a diagnosis means for their relationship.
Explaining dementia to children and young people
When a close family member or friend develops dementia, it is likely that every member of the family will be trying to cope with their own feelings.
Children and young people also need time to adjust to the news. It can be particularly hard for them, and they may need some help and support to talk about and understand dementia.
Explaining dementia to children and young people can also feel challenging for the adults and carers who support them. It can be hard to know how much you should tell them about dementia, or how best to explain things.