Alzheimer's disease: effects of perceived genetic risk on offspring



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Texas Tech University


Alzheimer's Disease (AD) has been called a family disease due to the increased involvement of family members in the care of Alzheimer's patients as the disease progresses. A substantial amount of research also suggests an increased genetic risk for the development of AD in first-degree relatives. Unfortunately, while ample research is available examining the genetic risk of AD, the effects this information has on the offspring of AD patients has not been explored. In current practice, it appears that family members often obtain information about their Increased risk for developing AD, but no supportive or comprehensive educational information is provided to help them cope with this information. This study explored concerns regarding perceived genetic risk for AD in adults with and without a family history of dementia. Variables which might contribute to concerns regarding perceived genetic risk were also examined, including level of depression and anxiety, amount of contact and quality of relationship with the family member with dementia, knowledge regarding AD, social support, financial stress, age, gender, severity of memory impairment in the family member, and family history of memory problems. This study was the first to find that family members of AD patients perceive themselves to be at significantly higher risk for developing AD, and that the spouses of these family members are concerned about the possibility of becoming a caregiver. Spousal support and financial stability were found to moderate the level of concern regarding one's perceived genetic risk for developing AD. These results suggest there may be a need for more accurate information on the genetic risk factors for AD.