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Registered User
Sep 5, 2006
My mother is 59 and has alzheimers disease. She was diagnosed about three years ago now and it was a terrible shock to us all as no one else in our family as far as we know has suffered from it. However, we don't know mum's biological father. I always wonder about this.
If someone has early onset alzheimers what are the chances that it is the hereditary strain of the disease? Does anyone know?


Registered User
Jan 31, 2004
near London
my wife was 50 when early onset Alzheimer's hit her.

There was no family history at all of dementia.

I have never understood that early onset is genetic from anything I have read though I know this has been quoted recently from Alzheimer's Society documents.

For my part, I would prefer to worry about, and cope with, the challenges that the condition presents, rather than worry about the probabilities of ... well, anything really in this area.


Registered User
Sep 16, 2005
My view

Hmm, how come then, everything I have ever been told since the day we found out about Dad's diagnosis is that early onset is predominantly hereditary?

The doctors told my parents at the time though that we shouldn't worry too much because by the time us kids were old enough to be at risk there would be a cure...yet time it ticking onward and still we seem no closer to such a miracle.

The following website
for example states:

"A significant proportion of early onset Alzheimers is linked to three genes...."

As I have read it, unlike ordinary alzheimers where you can carry a gene susceptible to Alzheimers but still have a good chance of not getting it, with early on-set if it is the genetic variant, you tend to have a 50-50 chance of getting it.

That is IF it is the genetically caused early onset Alzheimers.

Usually if it is not evident in the rest of the family however you can relax.

There is still the possibility although extremely unlikely of what is called a 'de novo' mutation of the genes meaning your parent could be the first in the line to have dodgy genes...in which case it sucks to be their child. There is also the possibility that one of your family members lied about your parents' paternity/maternity (don't roll your eyes it happens, haven't u seen Jerry Springer?!) and thus the reason noone else in the family has it is because your parent's biological relatives with the genes were never known.

I know many people don't want to know about all this stuff but as you can tell I DID want to know,...so have looked into it quite a while. I'm terrified of having what has happened to Dad happen to me.

I do get annoyed too at people telling me not to worry, I don't need to worry, I am being silly for worrying. Saying all that is as silly as telling someone who has seen someone burnt alive not to feel nervous every time they smell smoke or see matches. Instead of telling me not to worry, I'd like a few people to start saying, "Nat I completely understand why you would be worried, all the more reason to focus on enjoying life now!"

Worrying can become an obsession. Worrying can help take your focus off your utter despair and sadnes. Worrying can give u ulcers...if more people did worry, maybe there would be a greater push for funding and research.

So my point is:
*Be careful of becoming obsessed;
*Recognise that you may be becoming obsessed because you are subconsciously avoiding dealing with your other emotions;
*Worry is not healthly but it is completely understandable;
*If you are worried, focus on making that worry productive by either enjoying life now just in case your worry proves right, or by pushing for society to do something about this disease;


Registered User
Jul 25, 2005
This is something I worry about too. My mum was 57 when diagnosed.

For people who have early-onset (under the age of 65) it is more likely that it is hereditary than for those who get it later on. BUT it is still very unlikely that it is genetic, as in most cases it isn't. Even if your mum did inherit from her father, that doens't mean that you will. The gene isn't always passed on. Also, if it is genetic, it can't skip a generation, so if you don't have the gene, your children definitely won't.

Do you know any of her father's family? Does she have any brothers or sisters with the same father? Do you know how old he was when he died?

Nat - I agree with you, I hate it when people tell me not to worry. Of course I worry! It is terrifying to think it could happen to me. My mum's mum had dementia, but in her 70s, and probably caused by strokes, so the doctor said it is unrelated to mum's dementia. But my mum's dad died in his early 50s, so maybe he would have developed it if he lived longer, and therefore mum may have inherited it from him.

However, my mum is the youngest of 4 sisters, and none of them have developed it. There is no other history as far as I know. Therefore it seems mum is just unlucky.


Registered User
Jan 31, 2004
near London
I'd recommend caution in making one's own interpretation of other people's interpretations of [possibly even other people's interpretations of] research findings.

Classically the Daily Mail does this all the time.

Significant to most of us means 'really important'. To statisticians it is not necessarily the case. I quote
In statistical terms, significant does not necessarily mean important.
This is from http://www.surveysystem.com/signif.htm

Many researchers get very excited when they have discovered a "statistically significant" finding, without really understanding what it means. When a statistic is significant, it simply means that you are very sure that the statistic is reliable. It doesn't mean the finding is important or that it has any decision-making utility.
Many researchers use the word "significant" to describe a finding that may have decision-making utility to a client. From a statistician's viewpoint, this is an incorrect use of the word. However, the word "significant" has virtually universal meaning to the public. Thus, many researchers use the word "significant" to describe a difference or relationship that may be strategically important to a client (regardless of any statistical tests). In these situations, the word "significant" is used to advise a client to take note of a particular difference or relationship because it may be relevant to the company's strategic plan. The word "significant" is not the exclusive domain of statisticians and either use is correct in the business world. Thus, for the statistician, it may be wise to adopt a policy of always referring to "statistical significance" rather than simply "significance" when communicating with the public
these from http://www.statpac.com/surveys/statistical-significance.htm

A common problem is non-statisticians making their own interpretations by misreading [on purpose or otherwise] the language of statisticians.

All that being said, every time I forget anything I wonder about myself. It's all part of having entered dementia territory, even as an observer.


Registered User
Sep 1, 2006
Not knowing anything?

Well all this talk about genetics is quite interesting for me. I am adopted so know nothing of my genetic background, my adoptive mother has V.D. so I can see how worrying this can be for people who think they are going to inherit dementia.
However, I am not sure what I could be worrying about or should be worrying about, am I blissfully unaware!:cool:


Registered User
Sep 5, 2006
thankyou for all those replies. Defnitely food for thought. yes it is something i can't help thinking about as it may well effect me, my brother and my children, so is not something i can be told i shouldn't worry about. But at the same time - very important not to get obsessed as Nat said.
Sometimes you can be made to feel a bit selfish for worrying about this as you're basically thinking about yourself when you do - and not thinking about the person who already has it. But christ - let's be human about this - you can't help it - it's very natural to want to understand and know about possible future health problems - especially ones this devestating.
The thing about statistics is interesting too. It's easy to jump to the wrong conclusions with such vague and different statistics and information out there. All the more reason for some clarity on this.
Like everyone else - i have masses of other stuff that worries me about my mum and many other things to ask and find out about, but all in good time.......x


Registered User
Mar 7, 2004
Hve sent details of this thread to Lionel's children.

Harsh maybe, but they do not seem to be at all concerned for their dad, so maybe this will be a wake up call............


Registered User
Jan 4, 2006
Hiya Connie,
Their indifference to Lionel must be so difficult for you to witness. It is their loss - hopefully one day they will realise the time that they have wasted.
Love Helen

Tender Face

Account Closed
Mar 14, 2006
NW England
Sunny will know....

I'm with her on this one .... good to find one benefit of being adopted?:rolleyes: ;)

NOT knowing your hereditary predispositions can relieve a lot of worry - if you don't know what you're worrying about, nothing to worry about...... sure, I feel for my son and his lack of medical background.... but what can I do about it anyway? Healthy diet and living is all that seems to 'prevent' most things preventable.... and won't do any earthly good if they're not (preventable) ..... Que sera, sera......

No amount of knowldege, worrying, research would have prevented the local (from work) 'Lollipop lady', only in her thirties, dying under the wheels of a bus this week trying to protect the safety of youngsters and their carers crossing a busy road .... and leaving her own two children orphaned.....

When I can honestly believe my 'hereditary factors' can tell me precisely how my 'end' might be pre-ordained without recourse to the environmental factors and risks I live in and face everyday ... I'll start worrying about it.

Got enough to worry about right now about caring for those I love in the "here and now" to worry about how I may "go" and who might care for me.....

Karen, (TF)


Registered User
Sep 19, 2006

sunny said:
Well all this talk about genetics is quite interesting for me. I am adopted so know nothing of my genetic background, my adoptive mother has V.D. so I can see how worrying this can be for people who think they are going to inherit dementia.
However, I am not sure what I could be worrying about or should be worrying about, am I blissfully unaware!:cool:
Hi sunny just registered on the site had to send a quickie too ya, i too are adopted and mums just been diagnosed with VAS D always wondered my self about the health implications and not knowing with being adopted,just before mum started to show signs of being ill,I did a search on my birth family and made contact with mum being ill and meeting some of my other "family" so to speak its been one stressfull year,regards mark
ps do ya mind me asking what meds your mum is on if any just tring to get a bit of background on whats what as i only found out today and don,t altogether trust the GP,s as they chuck anything at you thanks and best wishes to you and your mum
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Registered User
Sep 1, 2006
Welcome MARKY P to TP

Sorry to hear your "mum" has has got Vas.D. My "mum" was given Promazine for her hallucinations (which became quite severe) it did seemed to help, but it does take to time to build up in the body so it was a little while before the full benefits kicked in. They did start her on Aricept but this did not agree with her, side effects too bad. You will get a lot of benefit looking at TP, lots of helpful tips. With this Vas.D, Mum's condition is up and down (she deteriorates quite badly, then improves quite well and so on. She is also very moody and very lethargic, has to be encouraged to do everything (to the point that her personal hygience suffered and also eating and drinking is a real trial). As far as GP's go Mum's is very good very helpful and the local mental heath team have been of great assistance, as well as the AS society but hospitals have been a bit frustrating (she has been looked after by the staff very well on the ward - not faulting that, but the communication to me the carer regarding her condition was to put it mildy very limited despite asking questions. It is nice to get another adoptee on board as of course there are other issues for us that others don't have to deal with and it can be extra stressful at times. Good luck with mum!