Most children grow up with grandparents: the dear old people where, as a child, you can get away with almost anything. And they are an easy and inexpensive babysitter when parents have to work. This has not always been the case. Originally there were no grandparents. It was more common than not that one died when they had passed childbearing age and children were raised. It was very important to get a lot of children because the genes would be passed on. So if you ‘finished’ having children, and these children had been brought up, the task was over. Subsequently, these children also got children and so on.
By evolution, the people, especially women, were getting older – the grandparents emerged. The longer life of the people had a good reason: mainly grandmothers helped to take care of the grandchildren. This made the work lighter for the mother, so she could have more children.
But how can people live longer? Various studies come forward with a theory, also known as the ‘grandmother hypothesis’. This states that there is a gene that controls the susceptibility for developing Alzheimer’s. There are several variants possible. One variant increases the tendency of getting Alzheimer’s, where the other variant increases a tendency to not develop Alzheimer’s.
It is very interesting to conduct more research on the Alzheimer’s gene, and about what it does exactly. Researchers are also interested to find the reason why the gene is not expressed during the younger ages of life, but only when the age of 70 or 80 has been reached. These developments can be used to develop medicine against Alzheimer’s disease.
Do you want to know more? Read the full article about the Alzheimer’s gene.