Is Dementia Hereditary? Understanding Dementia and Genetics

Dementia is commonly associated with the forgetfulness of an older individual, such as parents or grandparents. It gives you a sense of fear as your loved ones may forget about names, vital information like their bank accounts or lose the memories you spent together. Worse is when they forget you completely.

But is dementia hereditary? Various factors may trigger the disease, and genetics is one of them.

What is Dementia?

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Dementia is used to describe the symptoms of different illnesses, which leads to a person’s progressive functional decline. 

This involves loss of memory, social skills, rationality, intellect, and the ‘normal’ emotional reactions. 

Types of Dementia

There are four types of dementia: Alzheimer’s Disease, Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD), Lewy Body Dementia (LBD), and Vascular Dementia.

Age is a common cause of Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form of dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. It comprises about 50% to 70% of all cases of dementia. Regardless of family history, the majority of people with Alzheimer’s disease are 65 and older. Younger people may also develop the disease, particularly early-onset familial Alzheimer’s.

As the second most common type of dementia, Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) affects many people, and more likely, it may be inherited within the family.

Dementia with Lewy bodies is a progressive mental health disease. However, it is important to note that only around 10% of LBD cases develop through genes. 

Vascular dementia is associated with reasoning, planning, and judgment problems and can be traced from family history in rare cases. The risks are similar to stroke and heart disease, such as age and high blood pressure. Smoking may also play a role that can cause dementia to develop as it prevents oxygen from passing through blood vessels.

Can you inherit dementia?

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While experts believe the person’s lifestyle increases the risk of dementia, genetics may also trigger the development of the disease. So what are the chances of getting dementia if a parent has it? While genes from your parents are a factor, the majority of cases are not being inherited. Only a small proportion of rarer types of dementia may have a strong genetic link.

While experts believe the person’s lifestyle increases the risk of dementia, genetics may also trigger the development of the disease.

So what are the chances of getting dementia if a parent has it? 

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While genes from your parents are a factor, the majority of cases are not being inherited

Only a small proportion of rarer types of dementia may have a strong genetic link.

Which form of dementia is hereditary?

According to research, most forms of dementia have multiple risk factors. Genetic is only one of them. Some types of dementia have a higher risk of getting passed through genes.

Research shows Alzheimer’s is usually caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and social factors. The most significant risk factor for the disease is age. Generally, 99% of Alzheimer’s cases are not hereditary.

Familial Alzheimer’s disease is a rare form of Alzheimer’s disease that is passed between generations. If one of your parents has FAD-causing genes that underwent genetic mutation, you and your siblings have a 50% chance of getting it as well. Unlike the late-onset, the risk of developing early-onset Alzheimer’s happens in their 40s or 50s. There are only a few people who acquire it in their 30s and much rarer on individuals in their 20s.

Experts have identified three genes, which will cause FAD when mutated: presenilin 1 (chromosome 14), presenilin 2 (chromosome 1), and amyloid precursor protein gene (chromosome 21).

Nearly 50% of persons with Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration (FTLD) have a family history, which translates to about 10% to 20% of autosomal dominant patterns of heredity.

An inherited genetic condition, Huntington’s Disease causes dementia. According to clinical testing, it is another mental health disorder, which is characterised by psychiatric disturbance, progressive cognitive impairment, and motor manifestations. It is said to be triggered by a mutated gene.

Get help

If you’re taking care of an aged member, there are plenty of resources out there to help you with the welfare of a person.

  • Free Call: National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500
  • AIHW Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2012) Dementia in Australia
  • World Health Organisation
  • You can even check out residential aged care around Victoria, Australia.

Dementia may seem like nothing, but it is a serious problem that should not be ignored. Ask for help, look for more dementia-related information on our site, Delta Care, or call a hotline. Information is key in the path to helping people, and organisations will help that.

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