Top 8 Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Disease

People often wonder if there is a way to reduce their loved one’s chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Some risk factors that cause degenerative brain disease can’t be changed, such as an individual’s age, hereditary conditions, and genetics. However, risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease such as lifestyle and wellness can be influenced. Whether it’s more exercise, adding healthy choices to a diet, or managing pre-existing health conditions, research suggests that there are ways to reduce some Alzheimer’s risk factors.

8 Risk Factors For Alzheimer’s Disease

Is Alzheimer’s Hereditary?

Many people ask, “Is Alzheimer’s hereditary?” Researchers have found that the development of Alzheimer’s disease is linked to risk genes and deterministic genes. Inheriting deterministic genes guarantees that Alzheimer’s disease will develop in the future. On the other hand, risk genes increase the risk of developing brain disease but do not guarantee it’ll happen. However, if a loved one does develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, there are a large number of dementia care assisted living communities such as Terra Vista that provide the care they need.


Unsurprisingly, age plays a major role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Most people associate dementia and Alzheimer’s as age-related brain diseases. But that does not mean every elderly person will develop Alzheimer’s disease. Most cases of Alzheimer’s are in people aged 65 and older. After the age of 65, your risk factor doubles every five years. At 85 years and older, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease is nearly one-third.

Head Injuries

Whether it’s by wearing your helmet while you ride a bike or fastening your seatbelt regularly, protecting your head from unnecessary trauma can help reduce your Alzheimer’s risk factors. Research shows there is a link between past head injuries and the development of Alzheimer’s disease. To help ensure your at-risk loved ones are extra protected, try to create a “fall-proof” environment for them. A memory care facility is a good resource to learn how to create a safe environment for your loved one.


Family Health History

If you have a family member who already has Alzheimer’s disease, everyone in your family is at risk as well. The risk factor increases significantly if more than one family member develops the brain disease. Similar to age and genetics, your family history of Alzheimer’s can’t be influenced.

Oxidative Stress

Oxidative stress occurs when a person has an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants. A high concentration of free radicals, which are oxygen-containing molecules, can damage cell membranes and proteins. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, restoring a healthy balance. The latest research data indicates that oxidative stress is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease that needs to be considered when diagnosing an individual with dementia.

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Researchers believe the protein beta-amyloid is a primary driver of Alzheimer’s. Beta-amyloid plays an essential role in neural growth and repair. However later in life, it becomes corrupted, leading to the breakdown of nerve cells. Studies show that people in their 30’s take about four hours to clear half the beta-amyloid amount in their brains. For people 80 years old and older, the amount of time jumps to ten hours.

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Cardiovascular Disease

The heart and the brain work together to make our bodies function. Issues with the heart, such as cardiovascular disease, can result in inadequate blood reaching the brain, called cerebral hypoperfusion. An insufficient amount of blood flow to the brain is a risk factor of Alzheimer’s disease because it is believed that cerebral hypoperfusion contributes to oxidative stress in the brain.

Down’s Syndrome

When people with Down’s syndrome reach 40 years of age, their brains begin to show evidence of Alzheimer’s disease. That doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed. However, research has shown that about 30% of people with Down’s syndrome in their 50’s develop Alzheimer’s disease. The risk level increases to 50% when a person with Down’s syndrome is in their 60’s.

What Gender Does Alzheimer’s Affect Most?

Alzheimer’s disease affects both men and women, but studies suggest that women are more likely to develop the disease than men. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, almost two-thirds of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease in the United States are women. The reasons for this gender disparity are not yet fully understood, but some studies suggest that hormonal differences, genetic factors, and differences in life expectancy may play a role. While more research is needed to fully understand the relationship between gender and Alzheimer’s disease, it is clear that women are disproportionately affected by this debilitating condition.

Genes & Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease

As mentioned above, scientists have collected data that indicates Alzheimer’s disease is hereditary. The four chromosomes, 1, 14, 19, and 21, all have links to brain disease. Late-onset Alzheimer’s is connected to chromosome 19, also called the APOE gene. Multiple studies have shown that having the APOE4 type of APOE gene increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s at some point in life. This doesn’t automatically mean you’ll develop Alzheimer’s if you have this specific gene. Late on-onset Alzheimer’s has been found in people without that gene.

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How Genetic Testing Can Be Performed for Alzheimer’s Disease

Understanding that your genetics are a risk factor of Alzheimer’s, you may be wondering if getting a test done can help you understand your probability of developing the condition. While a blood test could show you if you carry the APOE gene, it wouldn’t tell you anything about your exact risk.

Blood testing is mainly used by doctors for research purposes and could otherwise cause distress in patients. For that reason, your doctor is unlikely to recommend a blood test. If a family member is showing signs of Alzheimer’s or dementia, a doctor can usually diagnose it without genetic testing.

Alzheimer’s Care Services Offered at Terra Vista

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease is no easy task. You want them to be comfortable, happy, and as independent as they can be, but providing that kind of care at home isn’t always achievable . The staff at our Alzheimer’s assisted living facility in Oakbrook Terrace, IL specialize at caring for individuals with dementia and memory issues. We will treat your family members with dignity and respect.

First, we take the time to understand not just who they are today, but who they once were and what their pre-dementia life was like. We provide your loved one with brain-stimulating programs, a barrier-free environment, and living facilities that help them reclaim some independence. The team at our community are committed to offering innovative memory care services and are well-trained in providing care for Alzheimer’s residents. Our staff will bring an individualized approach to supporting your loved one.

Want to learn more about recommended ways of providing care for your loved one with Alzheimer’s?. Our goal is to help in any way we can, so don’t hesitate to give us a call by phone at (630) 534-0886 or fill out a form on our website. In addition, you can schedule a tour of our community.