When somebody you know is very ill, it can make you worry that you (or someone else in your family) might become ill too.
Lots of different factors contribute to someone getting an illness that causes dementia. This means that it’s impossible to predict exactly who will get them so it can seem to happen by chance.
Dementia is unfortunately common, so many people have more than one person with dementia in their family. Even if this is the case, it doesn’t usually mean that you are more likely to get dementia. Like everyone else, your chances of developing dementia in the future will depend on many different factors, including your age, genes, health and lifestyle.
You can read more about risk factors for dementia here.
A few, very rare, types of dementia are genetic, which means that they can be passed down from one family member to another. Very few people have these types of dementia. If your family is affected by a rare genetic form of dementia you can read more in our online booklet.
If you are worried about dementia, ask for help to find out more. Don’t be afraid of upsetting other people by asking questions. Your family would much rather you asked than worried. If they don’t know the answer themselves, they can help you to find out. You could also speak to your family doctor.
It can feel easier to search for answers on the Internet, but there are many different types of dementia and everyone with dementia is different. An Internet search will not always lead you to the right answers. The best people to ask are the medical professionals helping to care for your relative.
Reducing your risk of dementia
Alzheimer’s and other dementias are complex diseases. We are making considerable progress in understanding how they develop and it’s clear that they don’t have one single cause.
Genes and dementia
We are often asked about the genetics of dementia – whether diseases like Alzheimer’s can be inherited, or passed down through families.
This information was updated in November 2019 and is due for review in November 2021. Please contact us if you would like a version with references.