MYTH: Alzheimer’s is Genetic

The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and Dementia can bring about more than just a worry about the health of the person who has been diagnosed, but also can bring a fear of what that may mean for their offspring and family members. The fear is simple: if my parent has a form of dementia, then that means I will have the same diagnosis when I get older. 

The truth is, 99% of all dementia cases do not have a hereditary cause. 

The Facts

The majority of dementias hit their diagnostic point when people are in their 70s and 80s. According to studies, the risk level of someone in their 70s of developing dementia is the same whether or not they have a relation to someone who has developed the disease. In fact, one of the biggest risk factors to developing dementia, that we know to this point, is aging. 

One of the more common forms of dementia that people incorrectly believe to be hereditary is vascular dementia. Vascular dementia is caused by damage to the blood vessels in the brain over time and can have a myriad of causes. Some of these causes can be passed down from family members such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Having these conditions does not mean one will develop vascular dementia, especially if these are well controlled with diet and medication. It’s not the genes that will cause vascular dementia, but, more likely, lifestyle choices that will decide whether or not this form of dementia is diagnosed.

We have outlined some of the healthy habits you can participate in to lower your risk of Alzheimer’s as you age in some of our previous blogs. Some of those habits include changing your diet, exercising regularly, not smoking, and avoiding traumatic brain injuries. 

What About That One Percent?

All of this said, yes, there are some forms of dementia that can be passed down through the family. Most of these forms of dementia have earlier onsets, usually younger than 60, and are extremely rare. These include conditions such as Huntington’s disease that affects a very small portion of the population.

Why Are We Here?

We say all of this to say, it is important to remember that Alzheimer’s and Dementia is not guaranteed to develop as we age. Our familial history matters less than we think and is often an excuse for us to not participate in the proper habits that can help us stave off the effects and development of these diseases. 

It is hard to admit that we are the ones to blame when it comes to the deterioration of our mind. It’s easier to make choices without having to consider the consequences. At Kemper House Central Ohio, we want educate our community at large about the ways we can move on from this myth and start taking care of our minds the way we always should. 

The first step is always to call out the myths that shackle us to our bad habits. The next step is yours. 

Will you take control of your brain health?