What Your Mom’s Health Can Reveal About Your Alzheimer’s Risk
Everyone wants to know: Will I ever get Alzheimer’s disease? Unfortunately, your Alzheimer’s risk depends on so many factors that it’s impossible to know for sure if you’ll one day face a diagnosis yourself. But there are ways you can predict your chances early, and take action ASAP.
Taking a closer look at your mom’s health history might give you some insight into your chances of developing Alzheimer’s. You’re more likely to develop certain health conditions if she’s had them — and all those combined could one day hurt your chances of a long, healthy life.
Does she have high blood pressure?
Like many health conditions, if your parent lives with high blood pressure, you’re more likely to develop it, too. Take steps to keep your blood pressure under control, whether you already have it or you’re at high risk of developing it.
Your risk for developing dementia and other serious health conditions increases if you have blood pressure issues you aren’t keeping under control.
Next: It’s just a number, but it’s important.
Is she overweight?
Both genes and environment can influence your weight. Unfortunately, if your mother is or has been overweight, you’re more likely to be on the heavier side. People with BMIs of 25 or above often — not always — are at an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
This might mean you have to work a little harder to keep your weight in check. Maybe you and mom can take a few extra walks together, if you live close. It’s a wonderful way to bond.
Next: Mental health might play a role.
Does she live with depression?
More importantly, is she being treated for the disease? Mental health problems also run in families, whether due to genetic or environmental factors (or both). Depression, especially untreated, also increases dementia risk. Make yourself aware of its symptoms, and seek treatment if you need it.
Next: You can’t control these Alzheimer’s risk factors.
Family history and genes matter …
There are a few Alzheimer’s risk factors you can’t do anything about: your age, your genes, and whether or not someone in your family has or will develop the disease. But don’t panic! Just because a parent or sibling has been diagnosed does not mean you’re doomed for the same fate.
Next: Can you really predict your future health?
… but they aren’t a death sentence
An article from The Alzheimer’s Society clarifies that while it does make a difference in your level of risk, you’re not guaranteed to develop the disease if your mom, dad, brother, or aunt has it. The most important risk factor is your age — the closer you get to 65, the greater your chances of being diagnosed.
Next: Diseases really do run in families.
Ask about her mother’s health
Sometimes, hereditary diseases like Alzheimer’s run in families. Your risk for developing this type of dementia increases even more if multiple family members — such as both parents, or your mother as well as hers — have had it.
Next: Is a genetic test really worth the money?
Should you get tested for the ‘Alzheimer’s gene’?
If your mom or another close family member has Alzheimer’s, you might be tempted to find out if you’ll get it, too. Unfortunately, genetic testing only tells you your level of risk. It can’t tell you whether or not you will actually develop Alzheimer’s.
So don’t expect a doctor to be able to say whether or not you’ll get it with a definite yes or no. Know the risk factors and do everything in your power to diminish those risks.
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