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Understanding Familial Alzheimer’s Disease

The Alzheimer’s Association estimates more than five million adults in the country live with Alzheimer’s disease, which is one of the most prevalent forms of dementia. However, there are several other forms of cognitive decline, one of which is known as familial Alzheimer’s disease (FAD). Here are a few important facts about this form of Alzheimer’s disease.

Familial Alzheimer’s Disease Explained

FAD is inherited from at least one parent, and it comprises two to three percent of all Alzheimer’s cases. The disease develops due to a mutation in three types of genes, namely PS1, PS2, and APP. The genetic abnormalities increase the production of beta-amyloid proteins that clump together and interfere with neuron function and communication.

Siblings or children of a relative with FAD have a 50 percent chance of inheriting one or more of the genes that contribute to the development of the disease. If a parent or sibling does not have FAD, the chances of developing the disorder are nearly zero percent.

FAD differs from the more common form of Alzheimer’s, as affected adults typically begin developing symptoms earlier. Individuals with FAD may start to experience cognitive decline in their 30s or 40s. Like Alzheimer’s disease, FAD is also incurable.

Living with a serious health condition can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional live-in care. Tucson seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more.  

Symptoms of the Disease

The effects of FAD are the same as other forms of Alzheimer’s. Affected adults experience gradual memory loss in the early stages of the disease. As the disorder progresses, they may require assistance with daily activities such as personal hygiene tasks. It is not unusual for individuals with FAD to become depressed or display anxiety and agitation.

When younger adults develop FAD, they may no longer be able to care for their growing children or maintain employment. Spouses and other family members may have to provide for the family and care for the affected individual.

Caring for a loved one with FAD or other types of cognitive decline can be challenging for family members and loved ones. Tucson respite care professionals can assist seniors with a wide array of daily tasks, offering family caregivers the chance to focus on other personal responsibilities or take a break to prevent burnout. Whether it’s for a few hours a day or a few days a week, respite care is the perfect solution for family caregivers who are feeling overwhelmed.  

Risk Factors for the Disease

Family members who have a loved one with FAD may be concerned about developing the disease. There are tests that determine the possibility of having the genetic anomalies and the presence of FAD gene mutations. However, researchers determined that only 200 family blood lines found throughout the world carry the abnormality. Anyone testing positive for an Alzheimer’s gene is typically advised to undergo genetic counseling.

Early diagnosis enables people to begin early treatment and make lifestyle changes that could delay the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. In addition to taking recommended supplements or prescription medications, people with FAD should eat a healthy diet, get sufficient physical exercise, and engage in activities that stimulate and exercise cognitive function.

Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality home care. Tucson families trust in Home Care Assistance to help their elderly loved ones age in place safely and comfortably. If your elderly loved one needs assistance managing the symptoms of a serious health condition, call us at (520) 276-6555.