Many people with dementia in their families might have questions about what to do when a loved one is diagnosed. Fortunately, memory care can help. However, family members can still be left with questions like “Is dementia hereditary?” and “What should I do to support a loved one?”
Are Dementia Symptoms Passed Down Through Genetics?
Dementia is a common condition that affects older people much more often than younger adults. Dementia is typically characterized by the impairment of a few key brain functions, but the condition can look different for each person, especially depending on the stage their dementia has reached.
Is dementia hereditary? Based on the current consensus among doctors, dementia does not appear to be a genetically inherited condition. It’s difficult to pinpoint the specific causes of dementia, but there’s very little evidence to suggest that those who develop the condition do so because of a genetic link.
For some rare forms of dementia, there may be a hereditary component present. However, for most people experiencing typical dementia symptoms, their genetics have very little to do with their condition.
What Causes Dementia?
Dementia develops due to the loss of or damage to nerve cells that are connected to the brain. Usually, this involves weakening or severing the cells’ link to the brain, which is the root cause of most dementia symptoms.
Doctors usually aren’t able to pinpoint exactly what causes dementia to develop in an individual. The most significant risk factor is age, as this condition is most common in people over 65. However, certain lifestyle factors could increase the likelihood of developing dementia. These include:
- Excessive drinking
- Drug use
- Lack of exercise
- Poor diet
- Head injuries
- Certain medications
Ask your doctor if you or someone you love might be at higher risk of dementia based on lifestyle risk factors.
Different Types of Dementia
There are several different types of dementia currently known and being studied, and nearly all forms are progressive and non-reversible. However, if dementia symptoms are noticed early, your doctor can suggest helpful steps to manage the symptoms and slow the progression of the condition.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common and well-known form of dementia. It is caused by plaque development within the brain. Other types include vascular dementia and Lewy body dementia, which are caused by blood vessel damage and excessive protein development in the brain, respectively.
Are any types of dementia hereditary? Some forms of the condition may be more linked to genetics than others, but more study is needed to determine just how big a role your genetics play in what causes dementia and whether you will develop the condition.
How Dementia Is Diagnosed
During annual visits and checkups, your doctor may perform tests and screenings to determine if you are experiencing dementia symptoms. They will also review your medical history and any current medications you are taking. To diagnose dementia, your doctor will conduct tests to determine the type of dementia and its severity. These may include:
- Cognitive exams to test memory and thinking skills
- Blood tests to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms
- Brain imaging tests such as MRI or CT scans
Your doctor may screen for other conditions that are causing dementia-like symptoms, such as vitamin deficiencies or thyroid problems. They may also ask for a family history to determine if there is any link between your genetics and the development of dementia.
Since dementia is currently not preventable or curable, early detection and diagnosis are crucial for managing symptoms and slowing its progression. If you or a loved one are experiencing any signs of dementia, it’s essential to schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.
Can I Prevent Dementia?
Though there is no foolproof way to prevent dementia from developing, there are certain lifestyle habits you can practice in order to keep your brain as healthy as possible into your golden years. Some of these habits include:
- Quitting smoking
- Eating a healthy diet
- Getting plenty of exercise
- Keeping your mind stimulated
- Maintaining a busy social life
- Treating high blood pressure and high cholesterol
By following these protocols, you can set yourself up for good mental health in the future while enjoying positive health benefits in the short term.
Call Westminster Place for Safe, Secure Memory Care
There is no clear answer to the question, “Is dementia hereditary?” However, early diagnosis and supportive memory care options can help minimize the impact of dementia. Our compassionate team at Westminster Place is equipped with the training and experience to care for all seniors, no matter their mental or physical needs. Learn how we could give your loved one the assisted living experience they deserve by calling us at 903.329.6520 or completing our online form.