Suffering the loss of a parent during childhood may be a risk factor contributing to later development of Alzheimer’s disease, and the risk differs depending on the child's age and the parent's gender. That’s the finding of researchers who examined 4,108 residents aged 65 or older in a rural county in Utah.
In the September American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, they reported that children who lost their mother during adolescence, or their father before age 5, had a higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease, an association that disappeared when the widowed parent remarried. Their findings were specific to Alzheimer’s disease and not found for other dementias. The researchers considered confounding factors including gender, education, APOE genotype, and socioeconomic status in their analysis.
Leading Alzheimer's disease experts have recently promulgated guidelines on how the disease should be defined and diagnosed. For more information, see Psychiatric News at http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/content/46/11/1.2.full.