My Mom Has Dementia. Will I Have It, Too?

May 27, 2017

One of the most disquieting things a child can experience is seeing a parent decline with dementia. The only thing that might be even more troubling is the fear that you might also get it. Is this hereditary?

As a general rule, if a parent has dementia, it means that you also will have a higher chance of developing it. But there are many things that influence this.

Lifestyle/Habits?

If your mom was not very active and had a poor diet (lots of refined carbs, few fruits and vegetables), her risk for dementia increased with these habits. If you do a lot of exercise and enjoy plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and modest amounts of sugars/refined carbohydrates, your risk of developing dementia will be lower.

What type of dementia does she have?

Dementia is not a disease, but an umbrella term for a group of medical conditions that cause mental decline. Alzheimer’s is a disease that causes dementia. It’s responsible for as many as 7 out of 10 cases. But there are many other causes.

If your dad played a lot of contact sports, it’s possible he had concussions that helped give rise to dementia. This type of dementia cannot be inherited.

If your mom had a number of strokes, it’s possible that they were the main reason for her brain damage. If you do not have the same risk factors for stroke, your risk may be significantly lower.

Sadly there is no cure for dementia. The good news is that we can significantly reduce your risk for developing it with prudent lifestyle choices. These are some things you can do:

  • Enjoy exercise regularly
  • Find mental challenges, like learning a language or taking classes in subjects that are new to you
  • Prefer foods that are low in sugars; have plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Get regular sleep
  • Try to maintain active social interactions (church groups, civic clubs, etc.)

These activities create a positive environment for the brain. They can lower the chance that you have strokes or diabetes that can damage it.

 

 

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