It was a shock the first time I heard the term “genetic vulnerability” uttered from the neurologist’s lips at a follow-up appointment after my mother’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis. This doctor wanted to make sure I understood as a child of an Alzheimer’s patient I was 50% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease myself and should take all appropriate measures for that reason.
By nature I am mathematically inclined, so I ran the numbers quickly through my head. I am one of five children in my family, and our genetic vulnerability makes it possible for two or three of us to develop Alzheimer’s disease at some point. This shocking discovery solidified dementia as a permanent fixture in my life, not ending with my mother’s death but continuing on as a constant threat looming large upon the hazy horizon for my family. With a 50/50 chance, Alzheimer’s is a coin toss for us all: heads you get it, tails you don’t.
The article “Seven Siblings: Who Will Get Alzheimer’s?” recently reminded me of these cruel statistics. I am certainly not alone pondering the probabilities of the future as it relates to Alzheimer’s disease. It is a permanent part of my life, there is no denying it or dodging the bullet. For that reason, I continue to learn as much as I can about Alzheimer’s disease, especially the recommendations for prevention.
Reference: ABC News: Seven Siblings: Who Will Get Alzheimer’s?
Image: ICMA Photos