A gene linked to the risk of developing Alzheimer's, diabetes and heart disease becomes less important to quality of life once people reach their 90s, a Mayo Clinic study shows.
Researchers found good friends and a positive attitude can essentially outweigh the effect of the ApoE4 gene on your well-being once you reach your 90s. The findings are published this month in the Journal of American Medical Directors Association
Researchers used a database of patient records in Olmsted County, Minnesota to find people ages 90 to 99 living on their own or in long-term care. The 121 participants completed an interview, a physical exam and a quality-of-life questionnaire. Participants were divided into groups based on their cognitive function, to sort out the effects of age and disease on well-being, and blood samples were taken for genotyping.
Researchers discovered that those who carried the ApoE4 gene were no worse off than others in the study.
"We found if people had good physical, intellectual, and emotional well-being, more social connectedness, and if they perceived themselves to have better coping skills, they felt they had better quality of life," said Dr. Maria Lapid, aw Mayo Clinic psychologist and co-author of the study. "You can have good quality of life regardless of this gene."
The median age of those studied was 93, and 87 percent were women. Those reporting poorer quality of life tended to be men, for reasons that are unclear, and people dealing with pain.
The study was funded by the Alzheimer's Association, National Institute on Aging, Robert H. and Clarice Smith and Abigail Van Buren Alzheimer's Disease Research Program of the Mayo Foundation.