Genetic testing for Alzheimer’s

These days, most everyone is wondering if they are likely to
develop Alzheimer’s disease. If someone in your immediate family has been
diagnosed with the disease, you might feel at especially high risk. There is a
test for an Alzheimer’s gene (APOE4). But it’s not 100% certain: Not everyone
who has the APOE4 gene will get Alzheimer’s. And not everyone who has
Alzheimer’s has this gene variant.

Should you get the test?
Since there is no cure, how would the outcome affect you?
Here are some questions to consider:

What would you do differently?
If you tested positive for the gene, what would you change? For instance:

  • Diet and lifestyle changes
    may contribute to lowering your risk for Alzheimer’s. These same changes might
    also lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Would you be willing to
    make these changes without knowledge of your Alzheimer’s risk?
  • Would you work longer and
    save more against future medical or caregiving expenses? Or would you retire
    earlier to make sure you have time for all those activities on your
    “bucket list”?

Who would you tell?

  • Are you emotionally
    prepared to handle a positive result? Consider other stresses in your life. Is
    this a good time to get tested? Do you have support?
  • How might your family
    react? Will it change your relationship with your partner? What about with your
  • Do you want your boss,
    insurance carrier, or doctor to know? Once the results are in your medical
    record, they may be difficult to conceal. This could affect your getting
    long-term care, disability benefits, or life insurance.

To test or not to test is a very personal decision.
For support, consider seeking the advice of a genetic counselor. You might also check out an online community of people at who have tested positive for the APOE4 gene.

Are you caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s?
As the Metro DC experts in family caregiving, we at Debra Levy Eldercare Associates know how stressful it can be. And sometimes scary, when you think about your own future. Give us a call at 301-593-5285. Let us support you with your caregiving responsibilities.