Factors of Alzheimer’s Disease of Which to be Aware

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks. Alzheimer’s affects a growing number of people. There are several factors known to play a role in Alzheimer’s. Let’s look at these factors both positive and negative.


Age is one of the biggest factors to consider when discussing Alzheimer’s disease. Symptoms generally begin for most after the age of 65. However, the proteins that damage the brain can begin taking a toll on the patient well before symptoms appear. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that after the age of 65, the risk of Alzheimer’s disease doubles every five years. Alzheimer’s is associated with old age, but early onset Alzheimer’s occurs in some people, although it is less common.


Another factor associated with Alzheimer’s disease is genetics. Although family history is not necessary for a person to develop Alzheimer’s, a person with a parent or a sibling with Alzheimer’s disease is at greater risk of developing the disease. If more than one first-degree relative (meaning a person’s parent, sibling or child) has Alzheimer’s, the person is at even greater risk.

There are specific genes that can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. If a person receives a gene from one parent they are at risk, and genes from both parents increases that risk. Although these genes can determine risk of developing the disease they do not determine that a person will develop Alzheimer’s. In some rare cases, there are deterministic genes that guarantee a person will develop Alzheimer’s disease. There are genetic tests which can identify risk genes and deterministic genes for Alzheimer’s. A person can elect to have these tests to determine their risk for Alzheimer’s disease.


Lifestyle can be a great factor in helping to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers have found that aspects of a healthy lifestyle can help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Healthy eating, exercise, and sleep are some lifestyle factors that can be preventative medicine for Alzheimer’s. Exercise can help to increase blood and oxygen flow in the brain and eating a heart healthy diet also shows great benefit. In addition, strong social connections have been shown to be a preventative factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Remaining mentally active can also help to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. Lifestyle is one factor everyone has control over and can go a long way in slowing or preventing Alzheimer’s.

Other Factors

There are other factors that can determine whether or not Alzheimer’s takes hold or not. Socioeconomic factors can determine whether Alzheimer’s takes hold. Recent research suggests that the more higher-level education a person has, the less likely that person is to develop Alzheimer’s. Head trauma earlier in life can put a person at greater risk for developing Alzheimer’s. Race and ethnicity have also been shown to play a role in risk for Alzheimer’s disease. African Americans and Hispanics are at a greater risk for Alzheimer’s according to research. Gender also plays a role in Alzheimer’s disease. Research indicates that because women are likely to live longer than men, they are also more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

Although we know some of the factors associated with Alzheimer’s disease, there are still many mysteries surrounding it. There is no known cure for the disease and treatments can only slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. With this information, it is important to take control of the risk factors you are able to and be fully aware of early warning signs. Being armed with good information can help to slow or prevent Alzheimer’s from taking hold.

If you have any questions about something you have read or would like additional information, please feel free to contact us.

Common Medicines Have Been Linked to Dementia 20-Years After Taking Them

When taking common prescription drugs or popular over-the-counter medicines, most people assume they are safe to consume. Unfortunately, sometimes certain side effects aren’t discovered until many years later. This may be the case with a category of drugs called “anticholinergics.” Anticholinergics are commonly found in medicines that treat allergies, asthma, depression, urinary incontinence and insomnia.

Many medications have at least some anticholinergic aspects, and it’s estimated that up to half of all older adults in the United States are currently taking one or more of these medicines, which are commonly used to treat depression, high blood pressure and incontinence.

New research shows that anticholinergic drugs may be linked to dementia, and shockingly, the risks extend to those who took them as far back as two decades ago.

In early 2018, researchers from the United States and Great Britain published the results of a massive long-term study in the medical journal BMJ (formerly known as the British Medical Journal). The study involved 27 million prescriptions as recorded in the medical records of 40,770 patients over age 65 diagnosed with dementia. Researchers compared those medical records to the records of 283,933 older adults without dementia.

They found a greater incidence of dementia among patients who were prescribed anticholinergic antidepressants, anticholinergic bladder medications and anticholinergic Parkinson’s Disease medications than those who were not prescribed these drugs. The more anticholinergic medications the patients took, in terms of dosage and volume, the more likely they were to develop dementia. The research found this even for those who took anticholinergic drugs 20 years ago and then stopped.

“This study is large enough to evaluate the long-term effect and determine that harm may be experienced years before a diagnosis of dementia is made,” said Dr. Noll Campbell, a co-author of the BMJ study, and researcher at the Regenstrief Institute and the Indiana University Center for Aging. Anticholinergic drugs work by blocking a neurotransmitter, called acetylcholine, from delivering brain signals to muscles affecting the digestive and urinary tracts, lungs and other areas of the body. Acetylcholine, however, is also involved in memory and learning.

Past research demonstrates that people with Alzheimer’s Disease, by far the most common type of dementia, have lower than normal levels of acetylcholine. “Physicians should review all the anticholinergic medications — including over-the-counter drugs — that patients of all ages are taking and determine safe ways to take individuals off anticholinergic medications in the interest of preserving brain health,” said co-author Dr. Malaz Boustani.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. It is never too early to start planning to protect your family and your assets, as well as starting to plan for your long-term care needs. We are here to help you address these challenges and answer your elder law questions whether you have time to plan or are in crisis. Do not hesitate to contact our law office to schedule an appointment.

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