Is Dementia Hereditary And Can It Be Prevented?
Updated February 27, 2020
Reviewer Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC
Being diagnosed with dementia can be very surreal. You don't want to believe that it is true because suffering from a disease like this is very horrifying. The idea that your memories and your concept of reality could be stolen from you by a medical condition is completely frightening, and you wouldn't be blamed for feeling depressed after receiving this news. It isn't something that you want to have happened, but you have to deal with it anyway.
Many people wonder exactly how someone contracts a disease such as dementia. Common people don't know a lot about this condition outside of the fact that it can change your perspective and alter your mind. Many people ask questions such as, "is dementia hereditary?" After examining the facts, the information that you find out might surprise you.
An Examination Of Dementia And Whether Or Not It Is Hereditary
The best answer that can be given to the question of whether or not dementia is hereditary is that it depends on the case. Most dementia cases have nothing to do with being genetically predisposed to having dementia. Typically, dementia is only inherited through your family line in cases of rare forms of the disease. Uncommon types of dementia have been known to be passed on through genetics.
If you are worried about whether or not you are going to pass down dementia to your children, then you should be concerned unless you have a rare form of the disease. Most people that are diagnosed with dementia have the common form, and it isn't yet understood exactly why people contract dementia. It can be frustrating to hear that the doctors don't understand why someone has contracted a disease, but science is an ever-evolving art. It takes time to understand diseases and the understanding of the medical community changes over time.
Dementia is among the most researched and debated diseases. There are many groups and wealthy individuals that pour money into researching this disease in the hopes of one day finding a cure. There have even been conversations among certain professionals about examining dementia as if it were a virus. Researchers need to continue to examine all angles so that the medical community can better understand how to treat it. As of right now, no absolute treatment will be effective and stop the effects of the disease.
Is Lewy Body Dementia Hereditary?
Much like typical dementia, Lewy body dementia is not considered to be a hereditary disease. If you have someone in your family who has suffered from Lewy body dementia in the past, then it can slightly increase the chances that you will have the disease as well. This doesn't mean that people who have Lewy body dementia contract it due to their genetics. There are some different risk factors involved that can help to determine whether or not someone is going to have Lewy body dementia.
The clear majority of people who contract Lewy body dementia are over the age of fifty. There have been reported cases in younger people, but these are extremely rare. Dementia is typically a condition that affects the brain when it is older. There are other risk factors involved that can increase your likelihood of having this problem too.
Suffering from Parkinson's disease increases the likelihood of being diagnosed with Lewy body dementia. Having a REM sleep behavior disorder can also lead to an increased likelihood of having this disease. The exact reason why this increases a person's chances of getting dementia isn't entirely understood. There is significant research being done to determine more about this subject.
Even when it comes to genetics, doctors don't usually rely on it to help diagnose people with this disease. Genetic tests aren't seen as reliable at this point when it comes to diagnosing dementia. Researchers have yet to pinpoint genetic markers that indicate someone is at risk for dementia. Until this can be determined, genetic tests won't be as useful, and many people would hope.
Is Vascular Dementia Hereditary?
There are rare forms of vascular dementia that are caused by having certain genes. Genetic mutations of the NOTCH3 gene are known to cause vascular dementia. This gene pattern can be inherited from your family, so in this way, it is true that vascular dementia can be hereditary. Even so, this is a rare form of the disease and is not typical of most people's experiences with vascular dementia.
Common vascular dementia has yet to be linked to specific genetics. This means that researchers are still working on figuring everything out. Millions of dollars are poured into dementia research of all kinds every single year. Progress has been made in determining certain things about the disease, but not everything is fully understood at this time. It will take further research performed by dedicated professionals to find the genetic markers that indicate the risk for this type of dementia.
Some researchers have found some promising leads with linking certain things with vascular dementia, but there is no definitive information as of yet. This can change as research is a constantly evolving thing. The hope is that one day researchers will understand how to better assess someone's risk for all types of dementia so that they can take steps to prevent it. Humanity is not at this point yet with dementia research, but someday that may change.
Can Dementia Be Prevented?
At this current time, it is not possible to prevent dementia from happening. The risk factors for dementia are not even widely understood yet. The medical community knows about certain genetic risk factors and that having certain other diseases can increase those risks. Outside of this, there is no conclusive information to go on. Even if it is frustrating to hear this, you need to know that there is no cure for dementia and that the likelihood of one being created soon is slim.
Scientists and researchers continue to work to understand dementia to a greater degree. They hope that in time they will be able to determine why the disease happens. Once this is understood, it should be possible to take measures to prevent it. Whether or not a dementia vaccination of some sort will be possible in the future is purely speculative. Regardless, it is something that millions of people around the world are hoping for.
This disease negatively impacts the lives of so many people. It can be difficult to deal with the realities of having dementia take a toll on your mind. The hope that one day this disease will be eradicated helps to keep people going. The advances in modern medicine are impressive, and you never know what humans may be capable of ten years down the line.
Seeking Help To Cope With Dementia
You may wish to seek help to cope with your dementia diagnosis. Being diagnosed with dementia may feel soul-crushing at first. No one wants to be told that his or her mind is going to be taken from them slowly. Dementia isn't a process that happens overnight, as it is something that will gradually worsen over time.
Your relationship with dementia and learning to live with it may be quite mentally taxing. If you seek out professional help to make dealing with these issues easier, it may allow you to alleviate a bit of your burden. Therapists and counselors can help you to talk about your feelings and any depression you're feeling due to your diagnosis. Simply being able to speak with a compassionate professional may help to make your life feel a bit easier.
Having someone to talk to really can make a huge difference. You can choose to seek a therapist outside of your home if you wish. They will be happy to speak with you about your dementia and any of your feelings on the topic. If you are too nervous to seek help at a therapist's office, then you might want to use online resources instead.
Signing up over at https://www.betterhelp.com/start/ will allow you to get help from the comfort of your own home. Some professional counselors understand the intricacies of dementia and how it can impact your mental health. They will be ready to talk with you and help you in any way that they can whenever you want to reach out. Making use of this convenient resource can allow you to maintain your composure and stay strong during your fight with dementia.
Getting this type of help is something that is completely optional. There are people out there who don't wish to open up in this way. If you want to think about whether or not this would be a good fit for your situation, then it will be there when you're ready. Knowing that you have the option to seek out counseling should be comforting to you. You don't have to face dementia alone, and you'll always have an ally in your corner when you need one the most.
Never Give Up
You don't have to simply accept your diagnosis and give up hope for your future. Living with a dementia diagnosis is possible. Your symptoms may worsen over time, and this could lead to many difficulties, but you can live your life how you want to. You don't have to let this disease steal your happiness from you.
Take the time to enjoy spending time with your family. Enjoy all of the activities that you are passionate about and appreciate all of the great things about life. If you start to feel anxiety or depression over the dementia problems, then you can always reach out to caring professionals for assistance. Your life is yours, and a dementia diagnosis does not have to define you.