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Home > Arhiva > 2011 > Numar: 1 > Genetics, Family Dynamics and Well-Being

 Genetics, Family Dynamics and Well-Being

  • Stephen J. Cutler (Professor of Sociology, Emeritus and Emeritus Bishop Robert F. Joyce Distinguished University Professor of Gerontology, University of Vermont, 31 South Prospect Street, Burlington, VT 05405 USA, 18027582025,
  • Lynne G. Hodgson (Department of Sociology, Quinnipiac University, Hamden, CT 06518, E-mail:

As our understanding of human genetics increases, social workers and family gerontologists would do well to take into account the role of genetic legacies in family dynamics and well-being. To illustrate the importance of genetic factors in the context of mid- and late-life families, we draw on findings from a 5-year, 2-wave study of “anticipatory dementia,” the personal concerns that individuals have about developing Alzheimer’s disease. Epidemiological research finds that having a parent with Alzheimer’s heightens the probability of dementia occurring in succeeding generations. Data from our study show that being an adult child of a parent with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s translates into significantly higher levels of personal concerns about developing Alzheimer’s disease compared to a matched group with no parental history of the disease. In turn, these personal concerns are associated with lower levels of well-being. Other findings are used to further illuminate the implications of “genetic status” for family dynamics and well-being.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease, genetics, families, well-being