Voices of Alzheimer's Caregivers: Part Six

Four Alzheimer's caregivers discuss their fears about inheriting the disease.

June 25, 2009— -- This is part six of the transcript from a special roundtable discussion featuring Alzheimer's caregivers. In this section, the participants -- Alice, Maureen, Phyllis and Joe -- talk about their fears of inheriting Alzheimer's disease.

Do You Worry About Inheriting Alzheimer's Disease?

MAUREEN: I guess I am nervous about having Alzheimer's or seeing my mother go through what she's going through. Remembering living through this with my grandmother ... it wasn't called Alzheimer's then. It was referred to as "hardening of the arteries," or senility. And my grandmother, she lived on her own. She became hospitalized for other medical reasons -- so they kept her in the hospital for about 18 months, but she would wander ...

MAUREEN: They'd find her in the middle of the night, a good mile from her house, barefoot, in the middle of the night, wandering. So, that's when we realized ... and the family then had to care for her ... so yes, I am very nervous.

ALICE: I'm not. We haven't come across it in my immediate family. But I'm very concerned about my kids and especially my grandchildren -- my son's two girls, because their grandmother had it. So that means a grandmother on one side of the family and a grandfather on the other.

PHYLLIS: I'm in those shoes. ... I am scared to death of this heredity factor to know that it's in our bloodline so close to me. ... The other side of the family, there's another incident, blood. I'm fairly newly married. I've sat with my husband and said to him, "You know, I'm scared to death knowing -- I don't know if it skips a generation. I don't know if it's every generation." I'm still trying to educate myself.

Get Expert Answers at the ABC News OnCall+ Alzheimer's Center

PHYLLIS: And he noted to me about early detection -- testing, and the new things that are coming out, that maybe we should have me tested, especially where there's two in the bloodline. I told him that I'm scared to try to find out at this stage of my life, where I'm still -- hopefully, granted -- "young." ... His point back to me is, "But wouldn't you want to know, because there are things that can be done to slow the progression?" You know if it were detected in you, you could jump on the bandwagon and get a jump start on these things to help with a quality of life down the road.

Roundtable Discussion: Will I Inherit Alzheimer's?

ALICE: Yeah, I don't know whether I would want to know. ... The only reason I might is that there is some new medication to help that ... could slow it down and prevent it, to get a good start at slowing it down. It's a real personal decision.

Alzheimer's Caregiver Roundtable Topics

  • Part One: Joining an Alzheimer's Support Group
  • Part Two: Early Warning Signs of Alzheimer's
  • Part Three: Challenges of Daily Living -- Bathing, Dressing, Etc.
  • Part Four: When You're No Longer Recognized
  • Part Five: Tips on Calming a Loved One With Alzheimer's
  • Part Six: The Fear of Inheriting Alzheimer's
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