Your Chances of Getting Alzheimer’s When Both Parents Suffer

A new study reveals somber news for those who have two parents suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Children of Alzheimer’s sufferers may show the early symptoms of the disease in the brain before experiencing any symptoms. What does this mean for children of Alzheimer’s victims? 

Your Chances of Getting Alzheimer's When Both Parents Suffer

Disturbing Facts for Children of Alzheimer’s Patients

A new study in Neurology shows that those who have two parents with Alzheimer’s may exhibit signs of the disease in the brain decades before symptoms appear. A research team at the New York University School of Medicine observed 52 dementia-free people between the ages of 32 and 72. Through MRI scans and PET scans, investigators found some disturbing facts that suggest a genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s:

  • Those participants whose mother and father both had Alzheimer’s disease showed 5-10% more brain plaques in specific brain regions than those who had healthy parents.
  • When both parents had Alzheimer’s, the participant showed more severe brain abnormalities in volume and metabolism.
  • Participants whose mothers had Alzheimer’s disease showed a higher level of biomarkers of Alzheimer’s than those whose fathers had Alzheimer’s.

While the study does not show exactly which genes are responsible for the early brain changes, researchers hope that their findings will be helpful to future investigations.

Hope for a New Generation

Although this news may at first be dispiriting to caregivers who have watched their parents suffer from the disease, it may also lead to new methods of detection and prevention. Dr. Lisa Mosconi from the New York University Langone Medical Center said, “Studies show that by the time people come in for a diagnosis, there may be a large amount of irreversible brain damage already present. This is why it is ideal that we find signs of the disease in high-risk people before symptoms occur.”

If patients and doctors know that a family history of Alzheimer’s can mean a higher risk for children, the disease is more likely to be found earlier.

Does Alzheimer’s run in your family? Would you want to know your chances of developing the disease?

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Please leave your thoughts and comments

  • Geri

    Yes, I want to know my chances of Alzheimer’s. I’m only 61 and I’m worried about some issues that I believe may be the early onset of the disease. I am very forgetful to the point that my job is on the line.

    • Ed Hagerty

      A much younger cousin of my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at age 60 in 2000. She had been up to the time of being diagnosed the head of the English Department at a large High School. She never let on to me she was ill until one day in 2003 I received an email saying it would be her last and as best she could explain why, Two years later before her 65th birthday her husband emailed me to say she had died.

      The Alzheimer’s Association continues to do a disservice by not letting people like yourself know that just because you might not have Alzheimer’s, that your chances are high that you very well might have another form of Dementia. Alzheimer’s IS the largest form of Dementia, BUT not the only form, my mother had a standard form of Dementia and now I’ve just learned my sister has it too and I should probably be tested.

  • Robin

    Yes, I definitely want to know my chances. My family believes I already have symptoms. I have always had poor areas of memory, but they think it’s getting worse. My maternal grandmother died from some form of dementia and 3 of her children now have some form of dementia. 1 vascular dementia the other 2 undiagnosed. So my worry of developing dementia is great and I’m only 56.

    • Ed Hagerty

      I think I want to know, particularly now with my older sister being diagnosed. I don’t know if other conditions contribute, but my mother and my sister had diabetes as do I. A cousin had Alzheimer’s at 60 and passed away before her 65 birthday. She and I use to correspond on Genealogy, but one day she emailed me to say she couldn’t email me anymore, because she was beginning to forget who I was and what were we researching.

  • impulsive57

    I am 56 and same story. I am almost positive I have the early stages. But will health insurance pay for testing? And is there any full proof tests? My Mom has either dementia or Al, she forgets all the time and really confused. The Memory Clinic in Burlington, Vt says she is fine. However the Assisted Living staff and family know different. She asks questions about people she knew 40 years ago….. It’s not easy. But I Love My Mom:))

    • Ed Hagerty

      Don’t hold me to it, but a basic rule to go by as to Alzheimer’s and Dementia is that with Alzheimer’s patients have for the most part fabulous long term memories and poor short term memories. I knew one woman at the nursing home my mother was at and one day she was excited because she said her brother was coming to pick her up with her father’s truck and they were going out to dinner with their parents for her 16th birthday. That event really happened except it was 70 years ago. Dementia patients have poor long Term memory, but good short term memory, every day for my mother was like what Bill Murray experienced in Groundhog Day, everyday is exactly like the day before, you were awaken washed and taken to breakfast, then hung out then lunch then hung out then dinner and put to bed. You remembered nothing from the day before and you were lucky if you remembered anything from the time you woke up to the time you went to bed. lastly the reason Alzheimer’s is so bad is in the end you forget the basic functions for life, Swallowing and ultimately the killer Breathing. The typical Dementia patient like my mother, could quite literally live forever as long as their internal organs continue to operate. My mother looked forward to breakfast, lunch and dinner, so she had no problem Breathing or Swallowing and lived just about 10 years with Dementia while several Alzheimer’s patients around her were dead and gone years before her

  • Effie Brown

    What’s the point of knowing, if there is really no effective treatment? Isn’t life depressing enough without knowing you are going senile? If you have children, just make sure they don’t put you in some dive of a rest home. If you give them power of attorney they will probably put you in some place that is crummy. I guess if you have enough forewarning, you could take the “Midnight Ship” out before you become totally incapacitated.

    • Patti Lipsig

      only if you have terrible children. With power of attorney, children can make sure their ailing parents are actually receiving the medical care they are paying for, watch out for con artists who prey on the elderly, and take care of any other legal or financial matters that may have been let go by the wayside, (like forgetting to pay income tax for years) during the early stages of the disease before being diagnosed. If you raise your children to be decent people they will do the right thing by you. And if you care about your children you wont leave a huge legal nightmare for them.

  • Ed Hagerty

    Why do the idiots at the Alzheimer’s Association continue to refer to everything as just Alzheimer’s instead of saying Alzheimer’s and Dementia? Out of ten people diagnosed 5 will have Alzheimer’s and the other 5 some sort of Dementia. My mother had Dementia and now my sister has been diagnosed with Dementia, NOT ALZHEIMER’S but Dementia. Last week on the TV show Elementary, Lucy Lui’s character when referring to the health of another character said something I have never heard before, “Does he have Alzheimer’s or Dementia?” Wow! The acknowledgement that if someone is diagnosed with Dementia, they might very well have Dementia and not Alzheimers. Then I heard it again on ESPN referring to a retired player, that the reporter distinguished that the ex-player had Alzheimer’s or Dementia, GET WITH THE PROGRAM ALZHEIMER’S ASSOCIATION!

  • Reba

    There is a cure for these 2 deseases but doctors and the FDA do not want any one to know since they make money.
    A doctor who also treats there patients with natural medications can help more than those doctors that still want to treat patients with medications that ultimately cause other problems.
    We need to become interested in the medications, and treatments doctors want to
    Give us.

  • angelinaballerina

    I assume when this article was written, the assumption was that even a parent with Alzheimer’s may be able to pass on a normal gene (from their unaffected parent) to their child. But with newer forms of testing (I’m thinking of someone who got results from 23andMe), if a person realizes from genetic testing that they received a bad gene from each parent for Alzheimer’s, does that mean they are destined to get it?

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