Alzheimer’s Factors – What You Should Know
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and progress over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks. Alzheimer’s affects a growing number of people. There are several factors known to play a role in Alzheimer’s. Let’s look at these factors both positive and negative.
Age is one of the biggest factors to consider when discussing Alzheimer’s disease. Symptoms generally begin for most after the age of 65. However, the proteins that damage the brain can begin taking a toll on the patient well before symptoms appear. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that after the age of 65, the risk of Alzheimer’s disease doubles every five years. Alzheimer’s disease is associated with those age 65 and older, but early onset Alzheimer’s disease can occur in some people, although it is less common.
Another factor associated with Alzheimer’s disease is genetics. Although family history is not necessary for a person to develop Alzheimer’s, a person with a parent or a sibling with Alzheimer’s disease is at greater risk of developing the disease. If more than one first-degree relative (meaning a person’s parent, sibling or child) has Alzheimer’s, the person is at even greater risk.
There are specific genes that can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. If a person receives a gene from one parent they are at risk, and genes from both parents further increases that risk. Although these genes can determine the risk of developing the disease they do not determine that a person will develop Alzheimer’s disease. In some rare cases, there are deterministic genes that guarantee a person will develop Alzheimer’s disease. There are genetic tests which can identify risk genes and deterministic genes for Alzheimer’s.
Lifestyle can be a great factor in helping to slowing or preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers have found that aspects of a healthy lifestyle can help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Healthy eating, exercise, and sleep are some lifestyle factors that can be preventative medicine for Alzheimer’s. Exercise can help to increase blood and oxygen flow in the brain and eating a heart healthy diet also shows great benefit. In addition, strong social connections have been shown to be a preventative factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Remaining mentally active can also help to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
There are other factors that can determine whether or not Alzheimer’s will take hold or not. Recent research suggests that the higher the level of education a person has, the less likely that person is to develop Alzheimer’s. Head trauma earlier in life can put a person at greater risk for developing Alzheimer’s. Race and ethnicity have also been shown to play a role in risk for Alzheimer’s disease. African Americans and Hispanics are at a greater risk for Alzheimer’s disease according to research. Gender also plays a role in Alzheimer’s disease. Research indicates that because women are likely to live longer than men, they are also more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
Although we know some of the factors associated with Alzheimer’s disease, there are still many mysteries surrounding it. There is no known cure for the disease and treatments can only slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. With this information, it is important to take control of the risk factors you are able to and be fully aware of early warning signs. Being armed with good information can help to slow or prevent Alzheimer’s from taking hold.
If you have any questions about something you have read or would like additional information, please feel free to contact us.
Elder Law of Omaha provides a range of services to our clients including estate planning, asset preservation trusts, long-term care Medicaid planning, and more. If you would like to discuss how to plan for your future, call our firm today at (402) 614-6400 to schedule your free initial attorney consultation.Visit our website at www.ElderLawOmaha.com.
This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts.