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Elderly care information: Huntington’s Disease

April, 2013

As part of our medical care for the elderly section, today we address and provide advice for the elderly and their families on a less-common and relatively ‘new’ disease that affects many people throughout the UK.

Huntington’s disease, which is often referred to as HD, is a hereditary disorder which affects the central nervous system. Huntington’s disease usually develops in adulthood and can cause a very wide range of symptoms. This disease does not discriminate and can affect both men and women.

Huntington’s disease is caused by a faulty gene on chromosome 4. The gene, which produces a protein called Huntingtin, was only discovered in 1993. In some way, which is not yet fully understood, the faulty gene leads to damage of the nerve cells in areas of the brain, including the the cerebral cortex and basal ganglia.

Each person whose parent has Huntington’s disease is born with a 50/50 chance of inheriting the faulty gene. Anyone who inherits the faulty gene will, at some stage, develop the disease. If you are aware that a member of your family has previously suffered with Huntington’s disease then you should be aware symptoms generally start to present themselves between the ages of 30-50 years old, although it can be sooner or later. The symptoms to look out for:

  • slight, uncontrollable muscular movements

  • stumbling and clumsiness

  • lack of concentration

  • short-term memory lapses

  • depression

  • changes of mood, sometimes including aggressive or antisocial behaviour

For more information for elderly relatives on Huntington’s Disease please visit the official Huntington’s Disease Association website here.

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