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4 Facts You Need to Know About Familial Alzheimer’s

By Lee Nyberg, 9:00 am on

Most people think of Alzheimer’s as a disease that only affects the elderly. However, there is a subtype of the disease that can affect people before they even reach middle age. This form of the disease, called familial Alzheimer’s, was brought to public attention in the Oscar-nominated film Still Alice, in which Julianne Moore portrays Alice Howland, a Harvard professor diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the age of 50.

1. It Often Develops Earlier Than Traditional Alzheimer’s

The primary symptoms of familial Alzheimer’s mirror those of traditional Alzheimer’s seen in older adults. The key difference is that the symptoms can present as early as a person’s 30s or 40s. The fact that the disease strikes earlier in life raises unique concerns. As the disease progresses, the diagnosed individual may need to cut his or her career short, which can affect financial security. The person may even still have young children at home, which can increase the challenges family caregivers face.

Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Lincoln Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.

2. It Is Rare

While most people who develop Alzheimer’s early in life have familial Alzheimer’s, the condition only accounts for 1 to 2 percent of all Alzheimer’s cases. Most individuals diagnosed with familial Alzheimer’s have at least one parent diagnosed with the disease. The children of a person with familial Alzheimer’s have a 50 percent chance of developing the condition. At this time, the genetic markers for familial Alzheimer’s have been identified in approximately 200 family lines. Since familial Alzheimer’s is so rare, it receives very little advocacy and funding for new research and clinical trials.

3. Mutated Genes May Be the Cause

Alzheimer’s experts believe familial Alzheimer’s is the result of a mutation in genes APP, PS1, and PS2. These genes play a role in regulating the body’s production of beta-amyloid proteins. These proteins clump together to form the characteristic plaques found in the brains of individuals with Alzheimer’s. It is believed that these plaques block signals from traveling from cell to cell across synapses in the brain. Beta-amyloid may also play a role in triggering an inflammatory immune response in the brain. 

Aging in place can present a few challenges for seniors living with Alzheimer’s. If your loved one needs additional assistance with household tasks or personal care, a home caregiver is an ideal solution. Performing daily tasks while simultaneously managing the symptoms of a serious illness can be challenging for seniors. The Lincoln live-in care experts at Home Care Assistance are available 24/7 to make sure your loved one has the care he or she needs to remain safe and comfortable while aging in place.

4. Genetic Testing Is Available

Individuals who have had multiple generations of their family affected by Alzheimer’s at an early age can talk to a genetic counselor about testing to determine if they carry the familial Alzheimer’s mutation. Early diagnosis and treatment may slow the progression, which can enhance overall quality of life. It also allows those at high risk to make informed decisions about family, career, and their future care needs. Knowing there is a high risk for an incurable disease also has drawbacks as genetic testing does not indicate the exact progression of the disease or when the symptoms will appear.

After receiving an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, seniors can benefit from receiving comprehensive home care. If your senior loved one needs help managing an illness or assistance with daily tasks, make sure you choose a top-rated home care agency. Lincoln Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one live a happier and healthier life in the golden years. From the mentally stimulating activities in our Cognitive Therapeutics Method to our friendly Care Managers who are available to answer your questions 24 hours a day, we offer a wide array of high-quality at-home care services. If your elderly loved one needs high-quality in-home care, call us at (402) 261-5158 today.