Home improvement for better senior living

Home improvement can be a challenge for seniors who decide to live at home instead of in an assisted living facility, included, are some DIY home improvement tips for better and safer senior living.

Home improvement can be a challenge for seniors who decide to live at home instead of in an assisted living facility.

Studies show that 90 percent of people over age 65 would prefer to remain at home as long as possible — and 80 percent of older Americans have firm plans to stay put.

How great would it be if all homes could be suitable for anyone, regardless of their age or physical ability? What if someone who wants to live independently — regardless of his or her age or physical ability — could do just that?

It starts with incorporating design principles and products that are adaptable, safe, and easy-to-use. These smartly designed features are attractive, stylish, and come at all price points. They will also help reduce the falls and accidents that are more likely to occur with senior occupants.

Many of these improvements are DIY projects like those below.

Do-it-yourself ideas

House wide:

  • Replace doorknobs with lever-style handles
  • Replace knobs on cabinets and drawers with easy-to-grip, D-shaped handles

Stairs and flooring:

  • Apply nonslip adhesive strips to uncarpeted stair treads
  • Use double-sided tape to secure rugs to the floor


  • Install rubber-suction bathmat or nonslip floor strips in the tub or shower
  • Install hand-held, adjustable height shower head for easier bathing

Major projects and renovations needed for seniors.

Sometimes, major home improvements are also necessary. Start with a home assessment by an occupational therapist, physical therapist, geriatric care manager or other certified aging-in-place specialist. People with these jobs can recommend proper modifications and remodeling projects for your home.

Here are nine ideas that will make life easier and safer in the kitchen and around the house, but require installations by someone like a skilled relative or friend — or hiring a contractor.

Consider installing:

  1. A wheelchair ramp (at least one step-free entrance into the home?)
  2. Rocker-style light switches
  3. Handrails for both sides of a staircase
  4. Lighting for staircases, hallways and exterior walkways
  5. Motion-sensing entry lights

Other additions/enhancements:

  1. Interior doorways at least 36 inches wide.
  2. Lower kitchen countertops and light switch height (work surface that can be used while seated).
  3. Adjustable, pull-down shelving to cabinets (kitchen cabinets and shelves easy to reach).
  4. Grab bars in bathtub and near toilet.

These upgrades will help keep homes safe for senior occupants well into their golden years.

When safety planning for senior occupants, don’t forget to create an emergency exit plan to help get everyone out of the home safely.

AARP created a HomeFit Guide to help people stay in the homes they love. The guide provides lessons, suggestions. and other practical home improvement solutions.

Find it online at: www.aarp.org/livable

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Senior safety: Knowing when to go to the emergency room versus urgent care

How do you know when to go to the emergency room and when to go to urgent care? Learning how to tell which type of care is best, can literally be a life saver.

Emergency room versus urgent care can be a hard decision under inevitable chaos. You already know to schedule regular wellness appointments at your doctor’s primary care clinic. But where do you go for more acute injuries and illnesses? When you don’t feel well, you want immediate care.

Knowing when to go to urgent care and when to go to the emergency room could get you the right care, faster!

Some people think they will be seen more quickly in the ER, but ERs see the most acute patients first. That means if your injury or illness isn’t serious, you may have to wait to see a doctor. Also, ERs are often busiest on Mondays and in the evenings.

When to go to the ER

You should go to the ER if you are in a life-or-death situation with any of the following symptoms:

  • Inability to breathe
  • Major trauma
  • Lost consciousness
  • Altered mental state
  • Head injury
  • Serious abdominal pain
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Chest pain
  • Stroke
  • Uncontrollable bleeding
  • Broken bones with the bone exposed

When to go to Urgent Care

Urgent care is for same-day care when you are experiencing problems like:

  • Breathing difficulty
  • Ear discomfort
  • Eye infections
  • Migraines and headaches
  • Sprains, strains and broken bones
  • Skin irritations
  • Upset stomach or stomach pain
  • Concerns of urinary, bladder or sexually transmitted infections
  • Work injuries (workers compensation)
  • Physical exams

Many urgent care clinics have convenient scheduling options so you can book your appointment online or by phone — and relax at home instead of sitting in a waiting room.

It’s important to note that some urgent care clinics cannot see patients younger than three months old, do not offer IV fluids/medication and do not have narcotics on site.

Other Options for when it isn’t a life-or-death situation

Many insurance carriers provide 24-hour nurse advice lines you can call if you aren’t sure where to go. Urgent and same-day care clinics often have expanded hours so you can get care outside of business hours.

Primary care or family medicine offices are usually open during business hours, sometimes with offset hours to accommodate work schedules.

The biggest takeaway

If you fear you have a serious, life-threatening illness or injury — you should go to the nearest ER or call 911.

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3 Steps to escaping senior loneliness

Loneliness is nothing to be ashamed of. And if you educate yourself about loneliness, you can recognize and combat its effects before it becomes a major problem.

Are you a senior who sometimes feels a deep sense of loneliness? Are you someone who worries about a senior who seems lonely?

Loneliness is nothing to be ashamed of. And if you educate yourself about loneliness, you can recognize and combat its effects before it becomes a major problem.

Loneliness in medical studies

Research shows that loneliness poses a true health risk for elderly people — one that can lead to higher blood pressure, greater stress, reduced immune defense (lowered production of white blood cells) and earlier death in some cases.

The study also revealed the startling fact that loneliness is a better predictor of early death than obesity. Those who felt lonely were more likely to die within six years than their nonlonely counterparts even when the study adjusted the results based on individuals’ ages, health problems and other factors.

Three steps to beat loneliness

Seek companionship. Many people look only to caregivers and family members for friendship, but local support groups, senior centers or faith-based organizations can be wonderful places to make new friends.

If you are a friend or caregiver to an elderly person, encourage them to lead an active social life and look for opportunities to help them connect with others.

Rediscover interests. After retirement, seniors may find they finally have time to take up hobbies that career or family responsibilities made difficult. Consider volunteering, caring for a pet, gardening, arts and crafts, reading, following sports or playing an instrument.

Having a hobby helps people of all ages stay motivated and keep an eye toward the future.

Be patient. The process can take time. A casual acquaintance can slowly become a close friend. A new hobby may take a little dedication. But loneliness is preventable. Taking steps to avoid loneliness helps your emotional and physical health.

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Appetite loss: 10 tips to a bigger appetite

Appetite loss can be a problem, especially for the elderly who live alone and lack interest in cooking. Appetite loss is common for people facing illness, cancer, depression – and medication side effects they come with – are also at risk of poor nutrition.

Appetite loss can be a problem, especially for the elderly who live alone and lack interest in cooking. Appetite loss is common for people facing illness, cancer, depression – and medication side effects they come with – are also at risk of poor nutrition.

“I wish I had THAT problem!” you’re probably laughing. But appetite loss is no laughing matter when you’re worried about a loved one’s appetite. Not eating right leads to low energy, which reduces appetite further.

Top 10 helpful tips

Make your loved one’s FAVORITE foods. Try new recipes featuring favorite ingredients. If they like cheese, consider melting it on a cracker with a slice of tomato on top.

  1. Make the eating environment lovely: tidy up, use beautiful colors for dishes and tableware, play calming music, turn off the TV, have flowers or another beautiful center piece.
  2. Eat together at routine times, and have good conversation. Feeling loved and listened to can stimulate an appetite … or at least make them feel “guilty” enough to eat a little just to please you, which lights up their tastebuds and leads to more bites.
  3. Keep the meal sizes small. When they see a large meal on the table, they might feel overwhelmed because they can’t finish it.
  4. Consider smells that can stimulate the appetite, like sautéing a little garlic with vegetables in butter or oil.
  5. Leave enough room between meals and snacks for your loved one to get hungry again. A food tradition from Panama says that if you eat an apple before a meal, it makes you hungrier and prepares your stomach for food.
  6. Keep them hydrated by helping them drink enough water throughout the day. This can facilitate faster digestion and will make them feel hungry more often.
  7. Physical activity as appropriate can stimulate the digestive system and may improve appetite. Take a short walk before a meal.
  8. Sometimes chewing might be difficult, so consider liquid or semi-solid foods, such as a protein smoothie. Smoothies can pack a lot of nutrients and calories; choose a good protein powder, veggies like kale or spinach and carrots, plus fruits.
  9. Snack! Prepare snack-sized bags with berries, nuts and chopped veggies.


Generally, women over 50 need about 1,600 to 2,200 calories a day; men need 2,000 to 2,800. Resist the urge to fill up on empty calories like baked goods, chips and soda. As you age, you don’t need as many calories, but you need more nutrients. Choose from fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein.


When you cook for yourself, make extra—like stew or hearty soups. Freeze left-overs in handy one-serving containers to leave behind in the freezer. Prepared food is easy to heat … and easier to eat!


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FAQ: Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act

The Death with Dignity Act allows terminally ill Oregonians to end their lives through the voluntary self-administration of lethal medications prescribed by a doctor expressly for that purpose.

What is Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act?

The Death with Dignity Act allows terminally ill Oregonians to end their lives through the voluntary self-administration of lethal medications prescribed by a doctor expressly for that purpose.

Who can participate?

A patient must be:

  • 18 years of age or older
  • An Oregon resident
  • Capable of making and communicating health care decisions for him/herself
  • Diagnosed with a terminal illness that will lead to death within six months, as determined by two doctors.

Can a patient take their Death with Dignity medication while staying at the hospital?

No, doctors may choose to participate or not. Some employers may prohibit doctors from participating in this process. A doctor must be an MD or DO licensed in Oregon.

How does a patient get a prescription from a participating physician?

  1. The patient must make two verbal requests to the attending physician, separated by at least 15 days.
  2. The patient must provide a written request to the attending physician, signed in the presence of two witnesses, at least one of whom is not related to the patient.
  3. The attending physician and a consulting physician must confirm the patient’s diagnosis and prognosis.
  4. The attending physician and the consulting physician must determine whether the patient is capable of making and communicating health care decisions for him/herself.
  5. If either physician believes the patient’s judgment is impaired by a psychiatric or psychological disorder (such as depression), the patient must be referred to a psychological examination.
  6. The attending physician must inform the patient of feasible alternatives to the Act, including comfort care, hospice care and pain control.
  7. The attending physician must request, but may not require, the patient to notify their next-of-kin of the prescription request.


Must a physician be present?

The law does not require the presence of a physician. The patient self-administers the prescribed medication; it is not administered by the physician. A physician may be in attendance if the patient wishes it.

If a patient’s doctor does not participate in the Death with Dignity Act, how can he/she get a prescription?

The patient must find another doctor (MD or DO) who is licensed to practice in Oregon and who is willing to participate.

Does insurance cover medical care that is part of the Death with Dignity Act?

As with any medical procedure, insurers will determine what is covered by policy. However, federal funding cannot be used for services rendered under the Death with Dignity Act.



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Understanding Long Term Care

Awareness Campaign – What is Long-Term Care?

Long-term care is a variety of services and supports to meet health or personal care needs over an extended period of time. Most long-term care is non-skilled personal care assistance, such as help performing everyday Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), which are:

  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Using the toilet
  • Transferring (to or from bed or chair)
  • Caring for incontinence and
  • Eating

The goal of long-term care services is to help you maximize your independence and functioning at a time when you are unable to be fully independent.

Who Needs Long-Term Care?

Long-term care is needed when you have a chronic illness or disability that causes you to need assistance with Activities of Daily Living. Your illness or disability could include a problem with memory loss, confusion, or disorientation. (This is called Cognitive Impairment and can result from conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.)

This year, about 9 million Americans over the age of 65 will need long-term care services. By 2020, that number will increase to 12 million. While most people who need long-term care are age 65 or older, a person can need long-term care services at any age. Forty (40) percent of people currently receiving long-term care are adults 18 to 64 years old.

What Are My Risks of Needing Long-Term Care?

About 60 percent of individuals over age 65 will require at least some type of long-term care services during their lifetime. Over 40 percent will need care in a nursing home for some period of time. Factors that increase your risk of needing long-term care are:

  • Age – The risk generally increases as you get older.
  • Marital Status – Single people are more likely to need care from a paid provider.
  • Gender – Women are at a higher risk than men, primarily because they tend to live longer.
  • Lifestyle – Poor diet and exercise habits can increase your risk.
  • Health and Family History – also impact your risk.

How Much Care Might I Need?

It is difficult to predict how much or what type of care any one person might need. On average, someone age 65 today will need some long-term care services for three years. Service and support needs vary from one person to the next and often change over time. Women need care for longer (on average 3.7 years) than do men (on average 2.2 years). While about one-third of today’s 65-year-olds may never need long-term care services, 20 percent of them will need care for more than five years.

If you need long-term care, you may need one or more of the following:

  • Services at your home from a nurse, home health/home care aide, therapist, or homemaker;
  • Care in the community; and/or
  • Care in any of a variety of long-term facilities.

Generally you pay a provider for these services. But most people receiving paid services in their home or community need to supplement these services with help from family and friends.

How Do Care Needs Change Over Time?

Many people who need long-term care develop the need for care gradually. They may begin needing care only a few times a week or one or two times a day, for example, help with bathing or dressing. Care needs often progress as you age or as your chronic illness or disability become more debilitating, causing you to need care on a more continual basis, for example help using the toilet or ongoing supervision because of a progressive condition such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Some people need long-term care in a facility for a relatively short period of time while they are recovering from a sudden illness or injury, and then may be able to be cared for at home. Others may need long-term care services on an on-going basis, for example someone who is disabled from a severe stroke. Some people may need to move to a nursing home or other type of facility-based setting for more extensive care or supervision if their needs can no longer be met at home.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Clearinghouse for Long-Term Care Information. www.LongTermCare.gov
Provided by: The Staff at www.RetirementConnection.com
Copyright © 2008 RetirementConnection.com. All rights reserved.

Aid and Attendance and Household Benefits

Aid and Attendance (A&A) and Housebound benefits are a benefit paid in addition to monthly pension. This benefit may not be paid without eligibility to pension. A veteran may be eligible for A&A when:

  • The veteran requires the aid of another person in order to perform personal functions required in everyday living, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, attending to the wants of nature, adjusting prosthetic devices, or protecting himself/herself from the hazards of his/her daily environment, OR,
  • The veteran is bedridden, in that his/her disability or disabilities requires that he/she remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment, OR,
  • The veteran is a patient in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity, OR,
  • The veteran is blind, or so nearly blind as to have corrected visual acuity of 5/200 or less, in both eyes, or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less.

Housebound is paid in addition to monthly pension. Like A&A, Housebound benefits may not be paid without eligibility to pension. A veteran may be eligible for Housebound benefits when:

  • The veteran has a single permanent disability evaluated as 100-percent disabling AND, due to such disability, he/she is permanently and substantially confined to his/her immediate premises, OR,
  • The veteran has a single permanent disability evaluated as 100-percent disabling AND, another disability, or disabilities, evaluated as 60 percent or more disabling.

A veteran cannot receive both Aid and Attendance and Housebound benefits at the same time.

How to Apply for Aid and Attendance and Housebound:

  • You may apply for Aid and Attendance or Housebound benefits by writing to the VA Regional office having jurisdiction of the claim. That would be the office where you filed a claim for pension benefits. If the regional office of jurisdiction is not known, you may file the request with any VA regional office.
  • You should include copies of any evidence, preferably a report from an attending physician validating the need for Aid and Attendance or Housebound type care.
  • The report should be in sufficient detail to determine whether there is disease or injury producing physical or mental impairment, loss of coordination, or conditions affecting the ability to dress and undress, to feed oneself, to attend to sanitary needs, and to keep oneself ordinarily clean and presentable.
  • In addition, it is necessary to determine whether the claimant is confined to the home or immediate premises.
  • Whether the claim is for Aid and Attendance or Housebound, the report should indicate how well the individual gets around, where the individual goes, and what he or she is able to do during a typical day.

Source: United States Department of Veterans Affairs, February 2008. www.va.gov
Provided by: The Staff at www.RetirementConnection.com
Copyright © 2008 RetirementConnection.com. All rights reserved.

What Advanced Planning (Advance Directive) is Needed?

What Advanced Planning is needed? What advanced planning should we do?

Advance directives are oral and written instructions about future medical care should you become unable to make decisions (for example, unconscious or too ill to communicate). Each State regulates the use of advance directives differently. A living will is one type of advance directive. It takes effect when the patient is terminally ill. Advance directives are not set in stone. A patient can revise and update the contents as often as he or she wishes. Patients and caregivers should discuss these decisions-and any changes in them-and keep the health care team informed. Everyone involved should be aware of your treatment preferences. Because State laws vary, check with your Area Agency on Aging, a lawyer, or financial planner. They may have information on wills, trusts, estates, inheritance taxes, insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid.

The person who has the authority to make medical decisions on another person’s behalf is called a healthcare proxy. The terms “healthcare proxy” and “healthcare agent” or “surrogate” are used interchangeably. These responsibilities are called “durable” (for example, you may hear the phrase “durable power of attorney”) because they remain in effect even if your parent is unable to make decisions. Most people appoint a close friend or family member. Some people turn to a trusted member of the clergy or a lawyer. The designated person should be able to understand the treatment choices. Know your values, and make sure others support your decisions.

The decision to name a healthcare proxy is extremely important. A written document, kept in the medical record and identifying the designated proxy, should always be up-to-date. Durable medical power of attorney forms do not give explicit guidance to the proxy about what decisions to make. Many States have developed forms that combine the intent of the durable power of attorney (to have an advocate) and the intent of the living will (to state choices for treatment at the end of life). These combination forms may be more effective than either of the two used individually. Each State regulates advance directives differently, so you will need to consult with the physician, nurse, social worker, or family lawyer to know what is required. It’s also a good idea to check to make sure that all financial matters, including wills and life insurance policies, are in order.

What important information should I keep track of?

The answer to this question is different for every family. You might want to help organize the following information and update it as needed. This list is just a starting point.

  • Full legal name and residence
  • Birth date and place
  • Social Security number
  • Employer(s) and dates of employment
  • Education and military records
  • Sources of income and assets; investment income (stocks, bonds, property)
  • Insurance policies, bank accounts, deeds, investments, and other valuables
  • Most recent income tax return
  • Money owed, to whom, and when payments are due
  • Credit card and charge account names and numbers

Source: National Institute on Aging, www.nia.nih.gov Long Distance Caregiver
Provided by: The Staff at www.RetirementConnection.com
Copyright © 2008 RetirementConnection.com. All rights reserved.

What if the Caregiver Passes Away? Who will provide the care?

What if the Caregiver Passes On?

As caregivers, we cannot assume that we always will be able to provide care. Even if we are able to be active caregivers, it is important to establish both emergency and long-term alternative care plans for our older relative or friend, and to make sure that the necessary legal documents are in place.

Legal Documents and Care Plans That Should Be in Place

Every adult should have at least a power of attorney, a living will or medical directive and a will or trust in place so that his or her wishes can be followed. If your older family member does not have these legal directives, you both should consult an attorney and have the appropriate documents drawn up.

Making Alternative Long-term Care Arrangements

When making alternative long-term care arrangements, you will want to discuss the matter with your care receiver(s), if at all possible, and follow their wishes about the person(s) or facility that would care for them, if you were unable to do so. If your care receiver(s) want to live with another family member or friend, you will, of course, want to discuss this arrangement with the proposed caregiver to ensure that it is agreeable.

If your relative can make informed choices about an alternate caregiver, living arrangement, and other matters, it will be easier to make long-term plans, if you have a power of attorney . If your older relative or friend cannot make informed choices it may be necessary to seek appointment as a conservator and/or guardian. This requires an appointment from the court to act on your care receiver’s behalf regarding matters of care and financial dealings. Whenever possible, discuss your plans for alternative living arrangements or caregiver choice with your older family member or friend and with other close family members as well as the designated caregiver. This will help to avoid opposition in the future that could lead to serious problems.

If you are the only possible informal caregiver, you and/or your relative can appoint a trusted friend or perhaps a committee composed of several friends to oversee your relative’s care, or you may decide that it is best to have a lawyer act as your care receiver’s representative. These arrangements also should be legally established.

Once you have decided on an alternate caregiver(s), it will be necessary to ensure that they, too, have the legal power needed to make decisions, should your care receiver be unable to do so. This may involve a durable power of attorney, a special medical power of attorney, and, in some states, a special power of attorney, if property is to be bought or sold, or a guardianship and/or conservatorship. As stated before, you should ensure that both you and your care receiver have medical directives, living wills and estate wills and/or trusts established, if there are financial resources available for your care receiver.

In choosing a long-term care housing arrangement it is a good idea to select one that can provide varying levels of care so that your care receiver will not be forced to move, if his or her medical condition changes.

Short-term emergencies don’t require the same amount of legal planning, but they must be considered. If you are unable to look after your care receiver, you will need to make arrangements with:

  • a relative or friend
  • a facility that provides short-term respite care (many nursing homes and assisted living facilities offer such care)
  • a home care agency
  • a geriatric care manager.

Remember that home care agencies often cannot provide services on short notice, and that you may need to have more than one family member or friend as a backup person.

Source: www.aoa.gov
Provided by: The Staff at www.RetirementConnection.com
For more information: www.aoa.gov
Copyright © 2008 RetirementConnection.com. All rights reserved.

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer disease is a degenerative disease of the brain that causes dementia, which is a gradual loss of memory, judgment, and ability to function. This disorder usually appears in people older than age 65, but less common forms of the disease appear earlier in adulthood.

Memory loss is the most common sign of Alzheimer disease. Forgetfulness may be subtle at first, but the loss of memory worsens over time until it interferes with most aspects of daily living. Even in familiar settings, a person with Alzheimer disease may get lost or become confused. Routine tasks such as preparing meals, doing laundry, and performing other household chores can be challenging. Additionally, it may become difficult to recognize people and name objects. Affected people may increasingly require help with dressing, eating, and personal care.

As the disorder progresses, some people with Alzheimer disease experience personality and behavioral changes and have trouble interacting in a socially appropriate manner. Other common symptoms include agitation, restlessness, withdrawal, and problems with speech. People with this disease usually require comprehensive care during the advanced stages of the disease. After the appearance of symptoms, affected individuals usually survive 8 to 10 years, but the course of the disease can range from 1 to 25 years. Death usually results from pneumonia, malnutrition, or general body wasting (inanition).

Four major types of familial Alzheimer disease have been identified. Types 1, 3, and 4 are classified as early-onset Alzheimer disease because their signs and symptoms appear before age 65. Type 2 is classified as late-onset Alzheimer disease because its signs and symptoms appear after age 65. Other cases of Alzheimer disease are classified as sporadic or nonfamilial, which means they do not appear to run in families.

How common is Alzheimer disease?

Alzheimer disease currently affects more than 5 million Americans. Because more people are living longer, the number of people with this disease is expected to more than triple by 2050.

What genes are related to Alzheimer disease?

  • Mutations in the APP, PSEN1 and PSEN2 genes cause Alzheimer disease.
  • Variations of the APOE gene increase the risk of developing Alzheimer disease.

About 75 percent of Alzheimer disease cases are classified as sporadic, which means they occur in people with no history of the disorder in their family. Although the cause of these cases is unknown, genetic changes are likely to play a role. Virtually all sporadic Alzheimer disease begins after age 65, and the risk of developing this condition increases as a person gets older.

The remaining cases of Alzheimer disease are familial, which means they are found in multiple members of a family. Familial Alzheimer disease can be divided into early-onset disease (symptoms begin before age 65) and late-onset disease (symptoms begin after age 65).

The early-onset forms of Alzheimer disease are caused by gene mutations that can be passed from parent to child. Researchers have identified three genes that cause these forms of the disorder. Mutations in the APP gene cause Alzheimer disease type 1. Changes in the PSEN1 gene are responsible for Alzheimer disease type 3, while PSEN2 mutations lead to Alzheimer disease type 4. As a result of mutations in any of these genes, large amounts of a toxic protein fragment called amyloid beta peptide are produced in the brain. This toxic peptide can build up in the brain to form clumps called amyloid plaques, which are characteristic of Alzheimer disease. Amyloid plaques may lead to the death of nerve cells and the progressive signs and symptoms of this disorder.

Some evidence indicates that people with Down syndrome have an increased risk of developing type 1 Alzheimer disease. Down syndrome, a condition characterized by mental retardation and other health problems, occurs when a person is born with an extra copy of chromosome 21 in each cell. As a result, people with Down syndrome have three copies of many genes in each cell, including the APP gene, instead of the usual two copies. Although the connection between Down syndrome and Alzheimer disease is unclear, the production of more amyloid beta peptide in cells may account for the increased risk. People with Down syndrome account for fewer than 1 percent of all cases of Alzheimer disease.

The genetic causes of late-onset (type 2) familial Alzheimer disease are less clear. This disorder is probably related to mutations in one or more risk factor genes in combination with lifestyle and environmental factors. A gene called APOE has been studied extensively as a risk factor for the disease. In particular, a variant of this gene called the epsilon 4 (e4) allele seems to increase an individual’s risk for developing type 2 Alzheimer disease.

How do people inherit Alzheimer disease?

The early-onset familial forms of Alzheimer disease (types 1, 3, and 4) are inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern, which means one copy of the altered gene in each cell is sufficient to cause the disorder. In most cases, an affected person inherits the altered gene from one affected parent.

The inheritance pattern of late-onset (type 2) familial Alzheimer disease is uncertain. People who inherit one copy of the APOE e4 allele have an increased chance of developing the disease; those who inherit two copies of the allele are at even greater risk. It is important to note that people with the APOE e4 allele inherit an increased risk of developing Alzheimer disease, not the disease itself. Not all people with Alzheimer disease have the e4 allele, and not all people who have the e4 allele will develop the disease.

What other names do people use for Alzheimer disease?

  • AD
  • Alzheimer dementia (AD)
  • Alzheimer sclerosis
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Alzheimer syndrome
  • Alzheimer-type dementia (ATD)

Source: Genetics Home Reference, A Service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, Reviewed: October 2006, Published: February 2, 2008
Provided by: The Staff at www.RetirementConnection.com
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