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The Kensington Falls Church Presents: Dementia— Hereditary Signs, Genetics and Family History

If you’re caring for someone you love who is dealing with dementia symptoms, you know how important it is to be educated about the disease.

At The Kensington Falls Church, our team knows how invaluable new information about research and the signs of dementia, hereditary or not, can make a difference.

That’s why we’re delighted to announce the next free online event in partnership with the Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Research and Care at UCLA. The event delves into the impact of family history on brain health, with a special focus on dementia genetics.

Join us for this invaluable learning experience. We’ll feature expert speakers discussing the latest research and clinical insights into this intricate group of neurological conditions and challenges.

Event details

  • Date: June 7, 2023
  • Time: 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM EDT
  • Location: Online (Zoom)
  • Cost: Free

RSVP for this in-depth event on hereditary dementia on the event registration page.

Introducing our expert speakers

This virtual event—open to anyone and everyone—will showcase two esteemed experts in the field of neurodegenerative diseases.

Dr. Kacie Deters

Dr. Deters is an Assistant Professor at Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Research and Care at UCLA.

Dr. Deters holds a Ph.D. in Medical Neuroscience from Indiana University School of Medicine. Dr. Deters focuses on the genetic and imaging characteristics of tauopathies, including Alzheimer’s disease.

At UCLA, Dr. Deters’ lab concentrates on ethnic and racial disparities in predictors of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease, primarily among the Black community. This is done using genetic, neuroimaging, neuropsychological assessments, and social/environmental factors.

Dr. Jessica Rexach

Dr. Jessica Rexach is an Assistant Professor of Neurology at UCLA and holds the Endowed Chair at the John Douglas French Alzheimer’s Foundation.

After completing her undergraduate studies at Cornell, she followed up with the MSTP physician-scientist training program at UCLA and Caltech.

Dr. Rexach pursued her medical residency at Cedars Sinai and WLAVA, along with a neurology residency and neurogenetics R25 fellowship at UCLA.

She earned her Ph.D.—focusing on intracellular glycosylation in neuronal signaling—at the famous Caltech under the equally esteemed Professor Linda Hsieh-Wilson. She then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in neurogenetics with Professor Daniel Geschwind at UCLA.

Dr. Rexach’s lab focuses on studying neuronal-glial and neuroimmune mechanisms in dementia in their efforts to identify effective therapeutics for these diseases.

Is dementia hereditary? Understanding the role of genetics

Dementia is a term used frequently to describe various symptoms that may affect your loved one’s memory, thinking, and social abilities—each significantly impacting daily functioning.

There are various forms of dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease being the most common.

One question that often arises is whether dementia is hereditary and what sort of role genetics play in dementia.

The role of genetics in dementia

How significant of a role genetics plays in dementia diagnosis varies depending on the specific type of dementia.

In some cases, genetic factors might increase an individual’s risk of developing dementia. In others, the influence of genetics may be minimal.

It’s important to note that not all forms of dementia are solely caused by genetics. In most cases, a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors contribute to the possible development of the disease.

Familial Alzheimer’s disease

Familial Alzheimer’s disease is a rare form of early-onset Alzheimer’s that affects individuals under the age of 65. It accounts for fewer than 1% of all Alzheimer’s cases and has a strong genetic link.

Mutations in three genes (APP, PSEN1, and PSEN2) have been identified as one of the main factors in familial Alzheimer’s disease. These mutations are inherited in what is called an autosomal dominant pattern. That means someone inheriting a single copy of these mutated genes from either of their parents is sufficient to develop the disease.

Late-onset Alzheimer’s disease

Late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, which typically affects individuals aged 65 and older, is by far the most common form of the disease.

The genetic component of late-onset Alzheimer’s is complex, involving multiple genes with varying effects on disease risk. The apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene, particularly its ε4 variant, is a well-known genetic risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer’s.

However, carrying the APOE ε4 variant does not guarantee that an individual will develop Alzheimer’s. And the absence of the variant doesn’t mean they won’t develop it.

Other forms of dementia

Other forms of dementia—frontotemporal dementia (FTD), for example—also have genetic components.

In FTD, up to 40% of cases have a family history of the disease. Furthermore, particular gene mutations in the MAPT and GRN genes, have been identified in those with FTD.

Although vascular dementia has a weaker genetic link, its risk factors such as hypertension and diabetes will play more significant roles in its development. This is mainly caused by reduced blood flow to the brain.

Reducing the risk of dementia

It’s not possible to change one’s genetic makeup. However, there are steps individuals can take to reduce their risk of developing dementia.

Adopting healthy lifestyle choices, including regular physical activity, a balanced diet, and maintaining a healthy weight, can help decrease the risk.

Additionally, managing risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, etc, can also help lower the likelihood of developing dementia.

The Kensington Falls Church—your connection to expert support

While genetics might play a significant role in the development of dementia, the extent of this influence varies depending on the specific type of dementia.

That being said, researchers have fully embraced the understanding that investigating the genetic basis of dementia is crucial for developing targeted treatments and preventive strategies.

The Kensington Falls Church has a team of experts who understand how to care for someone with dementia.

Our two levels of memory care are designed to cater to the particular needs of those in different stages of these diseases—and we strive to live Our Promise to love and care for your family as we do our own.

Please reach out to our team to learn more about our assisted living and memory care services. We are ready to listen and here to help you on your caregiving journey.