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5 Common Diseases in the Elderly Caused by Genetics

While a variety of factors can lead to a senior developing a disease, research suggests genetics often play a large role. Even though your elderly loved one’s genetic makeup cannot be changed, there are still ways to reduce his or her risk of developing certain diseases or alleviate existing symptoms. To help you better understand the possible effects of genetics on some common diseases, read the information below, brought to you by the senior care experts at Summit Home Care Assistance.

1. Parkinson’s Disease

A neurological condition that causes tremors and stiffness, Parkinson’s disease is diagnosed in 60,000 Americans each year, the majority of them over the age of 60. Scientists have identified 7 genes responsible for causing some form of Parkinson’s disease. While the disease is chronic and typically worsens over time, medications, exercise, a healthy diet, and the presence of a Summit Parkinson’s caregiver can help your loved one manage his or her symptoms.

2. Alzheimer’s Disease

Scientists believe a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors can cause late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, which occurs in seniors aged 60 or older. While a single specific gene hasn’t yet been determined as the cause, mutations of a protein on chromosome 19 have been linked to the brain disorder. Strengthening the mind through reading, doing puzzles, and eating a healthy diet can help prevent your loved one from developing the disease.

3. Osteoporosis

Approximately 75 percent of an individual’s bone mass is determined by genetics. This bone mass peaks at age 30 and decreases with age, with genetics playing a large role in how much is left over time. Seniors who are predisposed to osteoporosis can reduce their risk of bone loss and fractures that result from the disease by doing weight-bearing exercises and eating a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D.

4. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Millions of seniors are affected each year by COPD, a disease that makes it difficult to breathe. While many seniors are aware of the lifestyle or environmental factors that cause the disease, such as air pollutants or smoking, many aren’t aware it can also be influenced by genetics. A genetic mutation causes the disease in over 100,000 seniors each year. If COPD runs in your family, reduce your loved one’s risks by encouraging him or her to quit smoking and to stay away from those who do smoke.

5. Cataracts

A 2009 large-scale collaborative investigation by laboratories in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom found a genetic link in age-related cataracts. This disease affects millions of seniors each year and obstructs vision with proteins that clump together over the eye. Medications and surgery can help those whose vision interferes with their quality of life.

With early diagnosis and proper treatment, it is possible for seniors with these and other genetic-related diseases to live healthy and comfortable lives. Hiring a professional caregiver from Home Care Assistance to assist with mobility and exercise, provide mental stimulation, and encourage healthy eating can also positively impact your loved one’s quality of life. In addition to assistance with daily tasks, we also provide comprehensive Parkinson’s, stroke, and dementia care in Summit. For more information on our senior care services and to schedule a free consultation, call 908.450.9400 today.