A cause of concern for many, but in the vast majority of cases, Dementia is most thankfully not passed from generation to generation; from our elders, to us, our children, grandchildren, and future generations to come.
There are rarer forms of Dementias that do support a greater genetic connection, but on the whole, this affects a diminutive percentage.
In fact, the highest risk factor for Alzheimer’s – and many other ailments – is our age.
More common in our late 70s and 80s, more than 99 out of 100 people don’t inherit the disease, so if you have a parent or grandparent at a similar age then it really won’t affect your level of risk.
Moreover, it tends to be those diagnosed at a younger age – those with young-onset dementia, aged 50-60 years - that pose the greatest risk. Those with Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) usually being diagnosed between the age of 45-65 years. However, compared with Alzheimer’s or Vascular Dementia, FTD is relatively rare, with only around 3% developing dementia before they are 60.
In extremely rare cases where a person develops Alzheimer’s disease even earlier - in their 30s-40s - it’s almost always hereditary, so while the vast majority of people with Alzheimer’s disease do not pass on faulty genes to their children, this can sometimes be the case in younger people with the condition.
In summary, dementia is a complex interplay between genetics and various environmental and lifestyle factors
Worried about passing on an FTD or inheriting the disease from your parents? Speak to your GP and ask to be referred to a genetic testing service.
On the subject of Genes:
At a very young age, I clearly remember talking with my Mum about ‘genes’. Her explanation to me based around forensics and that it is sometimes possible to determine the identity of a burglar by his genes…
“But what if the burglar wasn’t wearing ‘Jeans’ Mummy?