After recently discussing my own family’s genetic vulnerability to Alzheimer’s disease, I’ve just come across another moving story about the Vincent family of Massachusetts that illustrates Alzheimer’s disease is a family affair. It is an emotional article that brought tears to my eyes, a difficult feat for a person who has witnessed the devastation of Alzheimer’s close up already.
Bruce Vincent is only forty-eight years old and has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, the same disease that claimed the lives of both his mother and grandfather at unusually early ages. That is three generations of the family who have all fought a losing battle with this incurable illness, and Bruce’s three children make a fourth generation now left questioning their own future and the future of any children they might bring into this world, a yet unborn fifth generation. Continue reading
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. Continue reading