When you begin to notice that your parent's memory and thought processes just do not seem quite right, you find yourself preoccupied with their health and well-being. However, what you do not expect to hear is that your parent has a condition known as early-onset or younger-onset Alzheimer's disease. If your parent is diagnosed with this progressive disease, you may wonder what you can expect and how this diagnosis will affect you and the rest of your family. After all, most people believe Alzheimer's to be a disorder that only affects the elderly and it can be a shock when a younger adult is diagnosed. Get to know some of the facts you should know when you have a parent with early-onset Alzheimer's disease so that you can be better prepared.

Alzheimer's Disease Can Be Genetic

If a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease before they reach the age of 65, there is a higher than normal chance that the disease is genetic and can be passed down through the family. While the majority of people with Alzheimer's (even early-onset Alzheimer's) have what is known as sporadic Alzheimer's, it is important to find out if the condition is genetic through genetic testing.

Your parent can get tested to see if they have specific genetic markers that could have caused their Alzheimer's disease. There are two different types of genes that may have an effect. The first is a gene that increased the risk of developing a disease (known as risk factors). When a person has risk factors, they are more likely that people without that gene to develop a condition.

The second type of gene is a guarantee that a person will develop a certain condition and is known as a deterministic gene. When a person has a deterministic Alzheimer's gene, this means there is a 100 percent chance that they will develop Alzheimer's in their life.

If your parent has deterministic genes for Alzheimer's, it is important to know so that you and your siblings can also get tested, as well as your children or future children. That way, you can ensure that you are prepared if you do have the genetic factors.

While There Is No Cure, There Are Treatments

There is currently no known cure for Alzheimer's disease, whether it occurs early or late in life. However, there are treatments and steps that you and your parent can take to try to slow the progression of the disease.

Helping your parent to exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet can help to improve their mental function and protect the brain from further deterioration. Certain diets like the regional diet of the Mediterranean can help to protect the brain based on the balance of vitamins and other protective nutrients they provide.

There are also several different prescription medications that your parent can take to help slow the progression of their early-onset Alzheimer's disease. These medications are designed to protect and prevent the breakdown of specific parts of the brain so that your parent will remain lucid and like themselves more often and for longer than they would otherwise. However, eventually, these medications do lose their effectiveness.

Research and clinical trials are constantly being developed to better treat Alzheimer's and eventually there may even be a cure. So, keep an eye out for new treatment options for your parent as they become available.

Now that you know a bit more about having a parent with early-onset Alzheimer's disease and what you can do to help them, you can move forward with a better idea of what is going on and how it may affect you.

For genetic testing, contact a company such as Courtagen Life Sciences.