The Alzheimer’s sign that shows up in your 20s

Having a family member with dementia is hard in a lot of ways…

It’s hard to watch her forget the family vacation you always laughed about together, how to get dressed or even who she is.

It’s hard to watch her feel confused, scared or angry. It’s hard to watch her struggle to sleep, eat and have a conversation.

And it’s even harder to watch this knowing that Alzheimer’s is genetic… which means you have a greater chance of going through the same thing later in your life.

Now, when you’re young, it’s easy to brush off Alzheimer’s worries, even if you know it runs in your family. But this isn’t the wisest idea…

That’s because thinking about your genetic risk early could motivate you to reduce your risk in other ways. And the sooner you do this, the better. Why?

Because a genetic risk for Alzheimer’s could be affecting your brain function right now… even if you’re still going to college football games and spending spring break at Coachella.

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Your memory starts slipping before you’re old enough to drink

We all have memory slips from time to time. You forget where you put your keys, your best friend’s cousin’s name, to make a vet appointment for your beloved chug (chihuahua-pug mix), etc.

But people with Alzheimer’s genes may have more of these forgetful moments than everyone else… even when they’re in their late teens and 20s.

A new study published in the journal eLife found that people with a family history of Alzheimer’s performed worse on memory tests from the age of 18 on.

The study included 60,000 men and women between 18 and 85. They all took a memory test where they looked at twelve sets of two linked words. Then they looked at single words at random and asked to recall the word it was linked to.

People with a family history of Alzheimer’s scored worse on the test than people without that family history, no matter what their age.

Be smart about Alzheimer’s… but not scared

It’s scary to think that Alzheimer’s is already affecting your brain function when you’re cramming for exams in college, starting your first job and raising your family. But don’t let this information freak you out… let it motivate you.

Sure, there’s a strong genetic component to Alzheimer’s. But does everyone with a family history of Alzheimer’s develop the disease? Absolutely not.

The fact is, lifestyle plays a huge role in who develops the disease. And that’s something you have control over. If you have a family history of Alzheimer’s (or even if you don’t), you’ll want to take preventative action now by:

  1. Exercising. Research shows a sedentary lifestyle increases your Alzheimer’s risk as much as having a genetic tendency toward the disease…. which means staying super active has the potential to counteract your genetic risk.
  2. Eating the MIND diet. This is a hybrid between the Mediterranean diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet that’s designed to support brain health. It’s based on decades of dementia research from Rush University. You can learn more about it in our article, “10 foods that make your brain almost a decade younger — and you can still eat cake.”
  3. Getting enough sleep. When you sleep, your brain clears out the waste that builds up and contributes to Alzheimer’s. That’s why poor sleeping patterns are linked to an increased risk of the disease.
  4. Research shows a form of Indian chanting meditation called Kirtan Kriya can improve brain function and prevent memory loss. The meditation only takes 12 minutes, so give it a try!

Editor’s note: One of the biggest dangers to anyone’s brain is a drug that 38 million Americans take every single day. It robs the brain of an essential nutrient required for optimal brain health. And it steals memories. Are you taking it? Click here to find out!


  1. Alzheimer’s genes might show effects in your 20s — MedicalXpress
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine,, and