Have you ever wondered if you’re going to develop Alzheimer’s Disease? Maybe your mom is struggling with it right now, or maybe your grandpa on your dad’s side died from it. It may be scary to think about, but how much are you really at risk? In honor of National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, we discuss a few inheritable traits that family members should know about.
What is the Normal Risk?
First of all, no one is exactly sure what causes Alzheimer’s Disease, and it could practically happen to anyone. However, there are a few risk factors that could put you at greater risk. Age is one of the most significant factors. Researchers estimate that one in ten people aged 65 and older will develop Alzheimer’s Disease. Women are also more likely to develop the condition. In fact, two-thirds of people living with Alzheimer’s are women. Ethnicity could be a major factor, as well. African Americans are about twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s, while Hispanics are about half as likely. Environmental and lifestyle factors, including air pollution, smoking, excess alcohol, poor diet, and lack of exercise, will also raise your risk. 
What if I Have a Family History?
Scientists have recently discovered what they call the “Alzheimer’s Gene,” which they believe is largely responsible for increasing the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. It’s important to note that the apoE4 gene does not cause AD, but it is believed to be associated with other increased risks such as environmental and lifestyle factors. After the age of 65, a person’s risk increases by 2% every year. For a person with a family history of AD, that risk goes up to 2.6%. The overall risk for a person with a close family history of Alzheimer’s increases by 30% in their lifetime. However, it is still important to note that age is by far the most determining factor. A 70-year-old with no family history is still more likely to develop the condition than a 65-year-old with family history.
What Should I Do Now?
If you are worried about your risks, the first step is to take part in genetic testing. A genetic test won’t tell you if you will develop the condition or not, but it will tell you if you are at greater risk. From there, you can make lifestyle changes to reduce your overall risk. Things like quitting smoking, cutting back on drinking, maintaining a healthy diet, and getting regular exercise will dramatically increase the likelihood of a long and healthy life. And don’t forget to exercise your brain too! Just like any part of your body, the more you keep your mind active and working, the more it will stay healthy and active.
Research Studies may be an Option!
If you or a loved one is living with Alzheimer’s Disease, research studies may provide access to potential new options at no cost. AD is more than just memory loss; it kills! One in three seniors who develop this condition will die from it. Help advance treatment options by contributing to research today! Click here to learn more.