GENETIC INHERITANCE

In rare cases, dementia may be genetically inherited. This means it is passed on 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 as 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 haven’t genetically inherited it, “you are still 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 may increase to around 1 in 4.

LACK OF RECOGNITION

As dementia progresses, some people may stop recognising their friends or family members. Dr Warner mentions that it’s important to manage this situation carefully as “it can be very distressing” for the individual with dementia. Unfortunately, their carer or family member become strangers 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 [them] 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, he suggests that saying ‘I am just here to help get you washed and dressed today’ could be better “because the person can hold that for a few minutes, while the intimate tasks are being done.”

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