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Do People Develop Alzheimer’s Due to Genetics?

By Mark Schmidt, 9:00 am on December 2, 2019

There are several genes that have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in one way or another, suggesting this progressive condition may be genetic in nature to some extent. These genetic connections further suggest Alzheimer’s could run in families, meaning relatives of someone with AD could have a higher risk of developing the same condition later in life. Today, we’re going to focus on just how much of a role genetics plays in Alzheimer’s disease.

Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Genes

A gene known as apolipoprotein E (APOE) is the most common gene associated with what’s termed late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. This is the type of Alzheimer’s that affects people 65 and older. It’s the most common type of Alzheimer’s disease.

There are many reasons seniors might need assistance at home. Some may require regular mental stimulation due to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, while others might only need part-time assistance with exercise and basic household tasks. Home Care Assistance is a leading Tucson senior home care provider. Families rely on our expertly trained caregivers to help their senior loved ones maintain a high quality of life.

There are two forms of the APOE gene that either reduce the risk of developing AD or have little impact on the disease. But there’s one slightly more common form of the APOE gene that does appear to increase the risk of developing traditional or late-onset Alzheimer’s. Additional genes with a possible Alzheimer’s link identified by researchers include:

• ABCA7 – This is a gene associated with AD that’s also believed to affect how the body uses cholesterol.

• CLU – This gene could affect the regulation of amyloid-beta (amino acids) in the brain related to Alzheimer’s.

• CR1 – There’s evidence this gene may contribute to the chronic brain inflammation that’s also associated with AD.

• PICALM – This gene may affect the nerve cell communication in the brain associated with memory functions.

• TREM2 – Rare variations of this gene could play a role in how the brain responds to inflammation.

SORL1 and PLD3 are among the other genes possibly associated with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. However, not much else is known about them right now. Researchers are continuing to identify new genes with a possible Alzheimer’s link.

Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Genes

A smaller percentage of people develop what’s called early-onset Alzheimer’s. This type of AD can affect individuals between the ages of 30 and 60. To date, researchers have identified three genes that could be associated with an increased risk of developing early-onset AD. It’s believed mutations of these genes could contribute to a buildup of the type of brain plaques associated with Alzheimer’s.

If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of senior care families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

Genes Aren’t the Only Alzheimer’s Risk Factor

It’s important for older adults and their family members to realize that genes aren’t the only factor that contributes to Alzheimer’s disease. Simply having any of the genes or gene variations associated with Alzheimer’s doesn’t automatically mean you’ll develop the disease, even if your loved one already has it.

While it’s possible to have genetic testing done to determine if you might have any of genes associated with Alzheimer’s, researchers discourage doing so because the results can be difficult to interpret. Also, results from genetic testing may affect your eligibility for certain types of insurance. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, additional risk factors associated with AD include:

• General lifestyle habits
• Chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure
• Obesity
• Depression
• Cognitive inactivity
• Head injuries 

If your elderly loved one is living with Alzheimer’s and needs help managing the symptoms, turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Alzheimer’s care. Tucson, AZ, seniors can rely on our revolutionary Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program that promotes cognitive health and delays the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. CTM also encourages seniors to engage with others in an enjoyable way and helps them build new routines to look forward to. To learn more about our premier in-home Alzheimer’s care for seniors, call us today at (520) 276-6555.