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An Alzheimer's Risk Gene Could Be Affecting You at a Young Age

By HERWriter
 
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With so many diseases and conditions to worry about, most people assume it is safe to be concerned with Alzheimer’s disease at an older age. But a new study revealed that an Alzheimer’s risk gene, discovered around two years ago, damages the wiring of the brain around 50 years earlier than the age people are generally diagnosed with the actual disease – 60 years or older.

This means people in their 20s are already being affected by the risk gene, although they aren’t showing symptoms and might not actually develop Alzheimer’s later on.

“For some time, I think we tend to make the mistake that Alzheimer’s disease for example is a disease of late life because it manifests late in life clinically, but the thing that I think is going on and these studies are starting to point out is that there’s a lot of changes that occur in the brain probably very early in life,” said Paul Nussbaum, a licensed clinical neuropsychologist. “You’re probably going to see treatments coming out down the road, that what’ll happen is it’ll stop the trigger early on in life.”

Alzheimer’s is one of about 100 types of dementia, said Nussbaum, also the chair of the advisory board for Alzheimer’s prevention at the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. He said Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia, and has a gradual onset of 10 or more years.

“Typically memory problems occur first,” Nussbaum said. “They tend to get lost, so there’s what we call visual-spatial deficits. Ultimately there are changes and decline in the ability to organize, to plan, to structure, and behavior becomes disinhibited, which means the person begins to be socially problematic.”

This includes walking outside when it’s freezing out in a nightgown, arguing more with others and being sexually inappropriate.

“Dementia is just a clinical word we use to describe clinically a loss of intelligence, memory problems, language disturbance, functional decline … and then personality change,” Nussbaum said. “Once you say, yes there is a dementia, then you have to say well what’s causing it?”

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EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Roughly a third of young people with dementia have Alzheimer's disease. Anyway, we must always remember that some types of dementia can be successfully treated. - George from his website about bunk bed with stairs and home furniture.

October 6, 2011 - 11:38pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW MORE ABOUT HOW TO CHECK AND SEE IF ONE HAS THE GENE. MY MOTHER HAS ALZHEIMER'S I BELIEVE HERS WAS LATE ONSET, BECAUSE WE BEGAN TO NOTICE CHANGES ABOUT 7 YRS AGO. SHE IS 87, I AM 61.

May 25, 2011 - 8:56pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.