IS DEMENTIA GENETICALLY INHERITED?

In rare cases, dementia may be genetically inherited, which means they could be inherited from parent to child through the transmission of genes. This typically affects people under the age of 65. Dr Warner suggests this is more likely to occur from a “rare form of Alzheimer’s, or a condition called Huntington’s disease.” However, he points out that only “1% of the 850,000 have this type of genetically inherited dementia.”

“But dementia does cluster in families,'' says Dr Warner, “so if you have parents who [are living with] dementia, even if they don’t have the genetically inherited form of the condition, you are still at a little more at risk of having dementia yourself.” With the inherited disorder, the risk of the child developing dementia around the age of 80, is 1 in 5. If the child has a strong family history of the non-inherited form, the risk probably increases to around 1 in 4.

LACK OF RECOGNITION

As their dementia progresses, there are some people who may stop recognising their friends or family members. Dr Warner mentions that is important to manage this situation carefully as “it can be very distressing” for the person with dementia. Unfortunately, the carer or family member appears to be a stranger to them, which can cause “all sorts of anxiety, and often irritability and aggression,”

Caring for someone who suffers with dementia can be a very difficult task, “often with no gratitude or thanks”, says Dr Warner. “You can’t get [this person] to easily start to recognise someone if they have forgotten who they are.” To keep these connections, he strongly recommends taking a here and now approach. For example, by saying ‘I am just here to help get you washed and dressed today’, this could be better “because the person can hold that for a few minutes, while the intimate tasks are being done'', says Dr Warner.

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