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Hereditary Alzheimer’s disease is a rare form of Alzheimer’s disease that runs in families from generation to generation. It accounts for around 1 to 5% of all cases of Alzheimer’s disease. Unlike the sporadic form of the disease, which generally develops after the age of 65, hereditary Alzheimer’s disease often manifests itself before the age of 65.

The prevalence of hereditary Alzheimer’s disease varies from population to population, but it is estimated to affect around 200,000 people worldwide. People with this hereditary form of the disease have a risk of developing the disease close to 100% if they inherit the mutated gene responsible for the disease.

Genetic causes of Alzheimer’s disease

Hereditary Alzheimer’s disease is caused by specific genetic mutations that are passed from generation to generation within a family. The genes involved in this hereditary form of the disease include the APP (Amyloid Precursor Protein) gene, the PSEN1 (Presenilin 1) gene and the PSEN2 (Presenilin 2) gene.

These genes are responsible for the production and processing of amyloid proteins, which accumulate in the brains of Alzheimer’s sufferers. Mutations in these genes result in excessive production of amyloid proteins, leading to the formation of amyloid plaques and neuronal degeneration characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease.

Hereditary Alzheimer’s disease is transmitted in an autosomal dominant fashion, meaning that a single parent carrying the genetic mutation has a 50% chance of passing the disease on to his or her children. It also means that each child of an affected parent has a 50% risk of developing the disease.

Symptoms of the Alzheimer’s disease

The first signs of Alzheimer are often similar to those of the sporadic form. Sufferers may experience memory problems, word-finding difficulties, mood swings and sleep disturbances.

However, unlike the sporadic form, symptoms of hereditary Alzheimer’s disease generally appear at an earlier age, often in the forties or fifties. As the disease progresses, sufferers may have difficulty performing everyday tasks, recognizing familiar faces and communicating.

The progression of the disease varies from person to person, but is generally progressive, leading to total loss of autonomy. People with hereditary Alzheimer’s disease often have a shorter life expectancy than those with the sporadic form of the disease.

Genetic testing for hereditary Alzheimer’s disease


Genetic testing for hereditary Alzheimer’s disease Description Cost Reliability
Genetic predisposition test Determines whether a person is a carrier of a genetic mutation associated with hereditary Alzheimer’s disease Approx. £300 Highly reliable
Genetic diagnostic test Helps confirm the diagnosis of hereditary Alzheimer’s disease in a person presenting symptoms Approx. £1,000 Highly reliable
Preimplantation testing Selects embryos that do not carry the genetic mutation associated with hereditary Alzheimer’s disease during in vitro fertilization. Approx. £5,000 Highly reliable

Genetic testing can be used to detect the genetic mutations responsible for hereditary Alzheimer’s disease. These tests can be carried out in people with a family history of the disease, or in those with early symptoms of the disease.

Genetic testing generally involves taking a blood or saliva sample, which is then analyzed in a laboratory to detect specific genetic mutations. Test results may take several weeks.

The implications of the test result can be significant emotionally and for the family. A positive result means that the person has inherited the genetic mutation responsible for the disease and has a high risk of developing it in the future. A negative result means that the person has not inherited the genetic mutation and has a reduced risk of developing the disease.

The risks of transmitting Alzheimer’s disease within families

The hereditary transmission of Alzheimer’s disease is a complex and emotionally-charged subject for many families. Understanding the risks and transmission mechanisms can help us to better manage this difficult reality.

Genetic transmission factors

The probability of inheriting Alzheimer’s disease is strongly influenced by genetics. When a parent carries a specific genetic mutation linked to the disease, each child has a statistical 50% chance of inheriting this mutation. This figure is significant because it shows that transmission does not follow a random pattern, but rather is determined by the laws of Mendelian genetics.

Implications of genetic inheritance

  • Increased risk for carriers: Individuals who inherit the genetic mutation are considered to be at high risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life. However, it is crucial to stress that inheritance of the mutation does not guarantee the development of the disease. The onset of the disease can be influenced by many other factors, such as lifestyle, environment and other medical conditions.
  • Variability in disease expression: It is also possible for individuals carrying the mutation never to develop the disease. This variability makes predictions difficult, and can often be a source of stress and uncertainty for the family members concerned.

Emotional and social consequences

  • Emotional impact: Knowledge of genetic risk can generate feelings of anxiety and fear among family members, especially those who know they are carriers of the mutation. This can affect their emotional and mental well-being, making them more vulnerable to other forms of stress.
  • Responsibility and guilt: It’s not uncommon for parents carrying the mutation to feel guilty or responsible for the genetic risk they may have passed on to their children. Similarly, carrier children may be concerned about the possibility of transmitting the disease to their own offspring.

Proactive approaches for families at risk

For families facing this reality, it is recommended to take proactive measures such as :

  • Genetic counseling: It is essential to consult a genetic counselor who can provide detailed information on transmission risks and help interpret genetic test results.
  • Early screening: At-risk family members can benefit from regular screenings to detect any early signs of the disease, enabling early interventions that could slow disease progression.
  • Lifestyle management: Adopting a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, regular physical activity and stress management, can help reduce the risk of developing the disease or alleviate its symptoms.

In conclusion, although the genetic risk of hereditary Alzheimer’s disease cannot be modified, a deeper understanding and proactive strategies can help families better manage this challenging condition, reducing the emotional impact and improving the quality of life for individuals at risk.


Prevention options for people at risk

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While there is as yet no safe and effective way to prevent hereditary Alzheimer’s disease, there are certain steps that at-risk individuals can take to reduce their risk of developing the disease.

Preventive measures include a healthy lifestyle, such as a balanced diet, regular physical activity, adequate sleep and stress management. It is also recommended to avoid known risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, such as smoking, alcoholism and exposure to toxic substances.

It’s also important to maintain good mental health by staying socially active, stimulating the brain with intellectual activities and managing stress and anxiety. Some studies also suggest that regular practice of cognitive exercises, such as memory games and puzzles, can help maintain brain health.

The benefits and limitations of these preventive measures may vary from person to person. It is important to consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice on appropriate preventive measures.

Treatments available for hereditary Alzheimer’s disease

Although there is as yet no cure for hereditary Alzheimer’s disease, there are certain medications that can help slow the disease’s progression and relieve certain symptoms.

Drugs commonly used to treat Alzheimer’s disease include acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, which help improve communication between nerve cells in the brain, and NMDA receptor antagonists, which help regulate nerve cell activity.

In addition to drugs, there are also non-drug therapies that can benefit people with hereditary Alzheimer’s disease. These therapies include occupational therapy, music therapy, art therapy and light therapy.

How to manage the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in the family

Managing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in a family can be a complex challenge. It’s important to make informed decisions and plan ahead for future challenges.

Lifestyle choices, such as adopting a healthy lifestyle and participating in cognitive and social activities, can help maintain brain health and reduce the risk of developing the disease. It’s also important to take care of your mental health by seeking emotional support and getting help from mental health professionals if necessary.

Planning decisions, such as drafting a will, establishing a durable power of attorney for healthcare and financial planning, can also be important to ensure adequate care should the disease develop.

Resources for families affected by hereditary Alzheimer’s disease


When a family is affected by hereditary Alzheimer’s disease, they can feel overwhelmed and isolated by the many challenges ahead. Fortunately, a multitude of resources are available to offer support, information and guidance. Here’s a detailed overview of the options and programs available to help these families.

Patient associations and support groups

  • Dedicated organizations: Associations such as the Alzheimer’s Association offer a wide range of services for patients and their families. These services include information sessions that explain the medical aspects and progression of the disease, workshops to learn how to manage symptoms on a daily basis, and support groups where family members can share their experiences and receive emotional support.

Specific support programs

  • Emotional support and practical advice: Programs specially designed for families coping with hereditary Alzheimer’s disease offer not only emotional support, but also practical advice on managing the disease on a day-to-day basis. These programs can include individual or family counseling sessions, workshops on care and communication techniques adapted to the needs of Alzheimer’s patients.

Use of modern technologies

  • SCARLETT program: This program uses advanced technologies to specifically help elderly people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. SCARLETT can provide medication reminders, home navigation aids and other functions that make daily life easier for patients.
  • Memory games on tablets for Alzheimer’s sufferers: specially designed to stimulate the memory and cognitive abilities of Alzheimer’s sufferers, these games are both entertaining and therapeutic. Activities are tailored to be easy to use and engaging enough to keep users interested.

Concrete examples

  • Example of the Alzheimer’s Association: Jane, whose mother has hereditary Alzheimer’s disease, has found great support from the Alzheimer’s Association. They helped his family understand the different stages of the disease and access local resources for home care and legal advice.
  • Example of the SCARLETT program: Robert, a senior citizen with Alzheimer’s, uses the SCARLETT program to help him remain independent for longer. Thanks to this system, he receives reminders to take his medication and alerts to help him remember his medical appointments.
  • Memory games on a tablet: Samuel, who runs a home for the elderly, has integrated memory games on a tablet into the facility’s activity program. He observed a marked improvement in the engagement and cognitive abilities of residents with Alzheimer’s disease.

These resources, combined with a network of family and professional support, can significantly improve the quality of life for people with hereditary Alzheimer’s disease and their loved ones. Families are encouraged to explore these options to find the best solutions for their specific needs.


Ongoing research into hereditary Alzheimer’s disease

Research into hereditary Alzheimer’s disease is constantly evolving. Numerous studies are underway to better understand the disease’s underlying mechanisms and develop potential new treatments.

Recent advances in research include the identification of new genes involved in the disease, the development of gene therapies to correct the genetic mutations responsible for the disease, and the use of advanced brain imaging techniques to detect early signs of the disease.

The outlook for the future is promising, but it’s important to continue supporting research and raising awareness of hereditary Alzheimer’s disease in order to find effective solutions to prevent and treat this devastating disease.

Conclusion: Hereditary Alzheimer’s disease is a complex illness requiring a multidisciplinary approach. Advances in research offer hope for those affected by the disease and their families. It’s important to take appropriate preventive measures, seek emotional support and plan ahead for future challenges. By supporting research and raising public awareness, we can help find effective solutions to prevent and treat hereditary Alzheimer’s disease.


Scarlett, memory games for seniors with dementia

scarlett for seniors with dementia

With the SCARLETT adapted play program, your loved ones will be stimulated at their own pace. The games have no timer, no score, so that seniors can rediscover the pleasure of playing. A practical solution for family and professional caregivers.

Supporting someone with Alzheimer’s with the Scarlett program

summary board alzheimers seniors brain training

In this guide, we give you practical advice on how to support, stimulate and bond with a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Useful day-to-day advice to make life easier for family and professional caregivers.

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