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Is there a way to know if a loved one or I will suffer dementia?

There is no definitive test to tell you if someone is suffering from dementia. There are some cognitive tests that can be administered but as the National Center for Biotechnology Information acknowledges, many doctors hesitate to conduct them or even broach the issue with relatives of patients who may appear demented because of the distress it can cause. There is thus a major element of guesswork in making a diagnosis.

Still, there are things individuals can do to anticipate and plan for the possibility that someone could develop one of the various brain diseases that fall under the dementia umbrella. Considering the high cost of providing the care that's required and the fact that dementia leaves the stricken individual unable to make decisions for him or herself, it becomes clear that setting up the legal framework to support long-term care matters. Don't expect that Medicare will be enough to cover the tab.

While there is no way to be sure that a loved one or you will develop dementia, medical researchers have succeeded in identifying certain risk factors, at least where Alzheimer's disease is concerned.

The most obvious factor is age. There are cases of early onset Alzheimer's but the disease tends to be more common later in life. It's not clear why, but according to the Alzheimer's Association, nearly one out of every three people aged 85 or older suffers from the disease.

If a parent, sibling or child in your family develops Alzheimer's, the chances increase that you may be stricken, too. The risk increases if multiple family members develop the disease. So, family history and genetics are risk factors.

The Alzheimer's Association also notes that there are specific warning signs that someone may have Alzheimer's. The organization says if any of them are noticed, they shouldn't be ignored. With proper detection by a doctor, treatments can begin that may offer relief. At the very least, planning for the future can begin.

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