neurons in brain

S1E34: Huntington’s Disease

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Huntington’s disease is a rare, inherited disease that causes the progressive breakdown (degeneration) of nerve cells in the brain.

Symptoms will typically start between 30-50 (but the range can be 2-80 years).  The first symptoms of Huntington’s disease often include difficulty concentrating, memory lapses, depression – including low mood, a lack of interest in things, and feelings of hopelessness.

Movement disorders can also develop such as involuntary jerking, contracture, trouble walking and balancing, and difficulty with speech or swallowing. Huntington’s disease can also cause psychiatric disorders such as mania and bipolar disorder.

Huntington’s Disease follows an autosomal dominant inheritance pattern
In an autosomal dominant disorder, the mutated gene is a dominant gene located on one of the nonsex chromosomes (autosomes). You need only one mutated gene to be affected by this type of disorder. A person with an autosomal dominant disorder — in this case, the father — has a 50% chance of having an affected child with one mutated gene (dominant gene) and a 50% chance of having an unaffected child with two normal genes (recessive genes). From Mayo Clinic

In this episode we talk more about the disease, how it is inherited, and how people with the disease are cared for.

More resources:

Reviewing the Coco Movie

Marianne and Charlie both talked about our “class assignment” to watch Coco for this year’s Day of the Dead Celebration. Marianne had never seen it. They also shared about their ofrenda and the stories behind them.

The ofrenda that Marianne and David made this year. It was their first year to make one, and they enjoyed the tradition of honoring dead loved ones.

Michael Porter – Reaching out with Love

We had a series of interviews with Michael Porter about his journey as a dementia caregiver. Michael’s wife, Janet, has HD and was diagnosed 12 years ago at age 58.  He writes a blog which you can read at

Charlie read one entry, with Michael’s permission, written 11 years after Janet’s diagnosis. To learn more about Michael Porter’s journey as a caregiver, catch these episodes:

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