tt is important to stress that having a family history of Alzheimer’s does not automatically mean you will get the disease. It does mean though if one or more of your close relatives lived with Alzheimer’s in general there is a genetic risk component and you have a slightly increased risk of developing the disease. Studies have shown the risk increases by approximately 30% if you have a parent or sibling with Alzheimer’s, when compared to someone with no family history.
This doesn’t sound like a small risk I can hear you saying, but let me talk absolute numbers to explain how the increased risk is indeed actually quite small. In the general population our risk of developing Alzheimer’s by the age of 65 is around 2%, which equates to 2 cases for every 100 people. If a family history of the disease raises your risk by 30%, this will increase the number of cases to 2.6 for every 100. So, without a family history 20 people from 1000 will develop Alzheimer’s, and with a family history, 26 people from 1000 will develop the disease. However, ageing increases our risk far more substantially than having a family history of the disease.