Key Points About Early
Alzheimer disease commonly affects older people, but early-onset Alzheimer disease can affect people in their 30s or 40s.
It affects memory, thinking, and behavior.
Although there is no known cure, early diagnosis and treatment can lead to better quality of life.
Stay healthy with a good diet and regular exercise.
Avoid alcohol and other substances that may affect memory, thinking, and behavior.
Which Genes Increase Your Risk For Alzheimers
There are several genes that researchers believe have an impact on your risk of developing Alzheimers. Again, these genes do not determine whether you will actually get Alzheimers, they simply tilt the odds in one direction. The most well-known and well-studied of these risk genes is the APOE-e4 gene its estimated that 40 to 65% of people diagnosed with Alzheimers have this gene.
Everyone inherits one APOE gene from each of their parents, but there are three different alleles of the gene, including e2, e3, and e4. If you inherit one APOE-e4, you have a threefold increased risk for developing Alzheimersinherit two and it increases up to 8 to 10 times .
On the other hand, if you inherit the APOE-e2 version, your Alzheimers risk goes down. The most common APOE allelee3is believed to have no effect at all on the risk of Alzheimers. There are many other factors, including socioeconomic determinants of health, associated with the expression of the APOE gene, including race, says Dr. Noble: We know from many studies that e4 seems to have a higher risk of expressing Alzheimers in non-Hispanic white people, while it appears to have a lower impact on those who are non-Hispanic Black people, he explains.
Genes associated with inherited Alzheimers
How do genetics affect treatment?
Should I get tested for APOE-e4?
The bottom line
What Happens After A Diagnosis Of Younger Onset Dementia
A diagnosis of younger onset dementia can come as a shock. The person affected, and their family and friends may all feel angry or sad. They might not believe it. There can be a huge sense of loss. These feelings are normal.
But help and support is available, and it is better to get it earlier than later.
Younger people with dementia need to think about several issues.
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Life As A Caregiver: My Husband Is A Different Man Now
People dont understand the magnitude of work and care that it takes to care for someone with Alzheimer’s. Its justendless. Quality sleep isnt even an option for me. If I get five hours of intermittent sleep a night, I am doing really good.
We often use dark humor to cope with difficult stuff in our family. For example, one of the big jokes in my house is about how I have some-timers because sometimes I remember things and sometimes I dont. Thats how it is for caregivers. Were under so much stress and we have so many responsibilities, it can be hard to think straight sometimes.
But just when you think you’re at your wits end and you cant do anymore, you somehow dig a little deeper and pray that God gives you a little more strength to deal with it and push forward. Some days Im still a wife, but most days, Im a caregiver. Ive lost the man that I married. Hes another man now, and I still love him, but its so different. I just keep trying to be the best wife and mother I can be.
Difficulty Determining Time Or Place
Losing track of dates and misunderstanding the passage of time as it occurs are also two common symptoms. Planning for future events can become difficult since they arent immediately occurring.
As symptoms progress, people with AD can become increasingly forgetful about where they are, how they got there, or why theyre there.
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How Is Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnosed
There is currently no single test to identify Alzheimer’s disease. The diagnosis is made only after careful clinical consultation.
The clinical diagnosis might include:
- A detailed medical history
- Lumbar puncture for cerebral spinal fluid tests
- Medical imaging
These tests will help to eliminate other conditions with similar symptoms such as nutritional deficiencies or depression. After eliminating other causes, a clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can be made with about 80% to 90% accuracy if the symptoms and signs are appropriate. The diagnosis can only be confirmed after death by examination of the brain tissue.
It is important to have an early and accurate diagnosis to determine whether a treatable condition other than Alzheimer’s disease, is causing the symptoms. If Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosed, medical treatment and other assistance can be discussed.
What Is Alzheimers Disease
- Alzheimers disease is the most common type of dementia.
- It is a progressive disease beginning with mild memory loss and possibly leading to loss of the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to the environment.
- Alzheimers disease involves parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language.
- It can seriously affect a persons ability to carry out daily activities.
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What Are The Signs Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Scientists continue to unravel the complex brain changes involved in the onset and progression of Alzheimers disease. It seems likely that damage to the brain starts a decade or more before memory and other cognitive problems appear. During this preclinical stage of Alzheimers disease, people seem to be symptom-free, but toxic changes are taking place in the brain.
Damage occurring in the brain of someone with Alzheimers disease begins to show itself in very early clinical signs and symptoms. For most people with Alzheimersthose who have the late-onset varietysymptoms first appear in their mid-60s. Signs of early-onset Alzheimers begin between a persons 30s and mid-60s.
The first symptoms of Alzheimers vary from person to person. Memory problems are typically one of the first signs of cognitive impairment related to Alzheimers disease. Decline in non-memory aspects of cognition, such as word-finding, vision/spatial issues, and impaired reasoning or judgment, may also signal the very early stages of Alzheimers disease. And some people may be diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. As the disease progresses, people experience greater memory loss and other cognitive difficulties.
Alzheimers disease progresses in several stages: preclinical, mild , moderate, and severe .
Memory Loss That Impedes Daily Activities
The most noticeable symptom of Alzheimers disease is often memory loss. A person may start forgetting messages or recent events in a way that is unusual for them. They may repeat questions, having forgotten either the answer or the fact that they already asked.
It is not uncommon for people to forget things as they get older, but with early onset Alzheimers disease, this happens earlier in life, occurs more often, and seems out of character.
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Early Signs And Symptoms Of Alzheimers Disease
For most people who develop Alzheimers, it tends to be changes in memory that are detected first. You may notice the decline yourself or have it pointed out to you by family or friends. But the disease is about more than just memory changes. Alzheimers also presents itself as problems with language, judgment, and abstract thinking.
The early warning signs of Alzheimers disease include:
Difficulty Completing Everyday Tasks
The person may have difficulty completing an otherwise familiar task. For example, they may find it hard to:
- get to a grocery store, restaurant, or place of employment
- follow the rules of a familiar game
- prepare a simple meal
Sometimes, people need help with new or unfamiliar things as they get older, such as the settings on a new phone. However, this does not necessarily indicate a problem.
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Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s Disease
In the early stages the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can be very subtle. However, it often begins with lapses in memory and difficulty in finding the right words for everyday objects.
Other symptoms may include:
- Persistent and frequent memory difficulties, especially of recent events
- Vagueness in everyday conversation
- Apparent loss of enthusiasm for previously enjoyed activities
- Taking longer to do routine tasks
- Forgetting well-known people or places
- Inability to process questions and instructions
- Deterioration of social skills
- Emotional unpredictability
Symptoms vary and the disease progresses at a different pace according to the individual and the areas of the brain affected. A person’s abilities may fluctuate from day to day, or even within the one day, becoming worse in times of stress, fatigue or ill-health.
Memory Loss Is Normal Alzheimers Is Not
Alzheimers is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, leading to cognitive impairment that severely affects daily living. Often the terms Alzheimers and dementia are used interchangeably and although the two are related, they are not the same. Dementia is a general term for the loss of memory or other mental abilities that affect daily life. Alzheimers is a cause of dementia, with over 70 percent of all dementia cases occurring as a result of Alzheimers.
The majority of Alzheimers cases occur in people aged 65 years or older.
Slight memory loss is a normal consequence of aging, and people therefore should not be overly concerned if they lose their keys or forget the name of a neighbor at the grocery store. If these things happen infrequently, there is scant reason to worry. You most likely do not have Alzheimers if you simply forgot one time where you parked upon leaving Disneyland or the local mall during the holidays.
How do you know when forgetfulness is part of the normal aging process and when it could be a symptom of Alzheimers? Here are 10 early signs and symptoms of Alzheimers disease.
A key point to consider is whether these symptoms significantly affect daily living. If so, then Alzheimers disease might be the cause.
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Can You Get Alzheimer’s Disease When You Are Young
We typically associate Alzheimer’s disease with an older population since most people who develop this progressive brain disorder are age 65 and older. Currently some 5.5 million Americanstwo-thirds of them womenlive with the disease. But hidden within that estimate, a smaller numberapproximately 200,000 adultsdevelop the condition under the age of 65. When this happens, it’s called early-onset Alzheimer’s. “There are several forms of dementia and Alzheimer’s is just one type. While early-onset Alzheimer’s is somewhat uncommon, it still happens,” says Dr. Nimi Patel, neurologist.
What Causes Alzheimer Disease
Lots of research is being done to find out more about the causes of Alzheimer disease. There is no one reason why people get it. Older people are more likely to get it, and the risk increases the older the person gets. In other words, an 85-year-old is more likely to get it than a 65-year-old. And women are more likely to get it than men.
Researchers also think genes handed down from family members can make a person more likely to get Alzheimer disease. But that doesn’t mean everyone related to someone who has it will get the disease. Other things may make it more likely that someone will get the disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Down syndrome, or having a head injury.
On the positive side, researchers believe exercise, a healthy diet, and taking steps to keep your mind active may help delay the start of Alzheimer disease.
Is There Treatment Available
At present there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. However, one group of drugs called cholinergeric drugs appears to be providing some temporary improvement in cognitive functioning for some people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.
Drugs can also be prescribed for secondary symptoms such as restlessness or depression or to help the person with dementia sleep better.
Community support is available for the person with Alzheimer’s disease, their families and carers. This support can make a positive difference to managing dementia. Dementia Australia provides support, information and counselling for people affected by dementia. Dementia Australia also aims to provide up-to-date information about drug treatments.
For more information contact the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.
For a range of books and videos contact our Library.
For advice, common sense approaches and practical strategies on the issues most commonly raised about dementia, read our Help Sheets.
What Is Early Onset Familial Alzheimer Disease
Definition: What Is eFAD?
Early onset familial Alzheimer disease is hereditary and marked by Alzheimer disease symptoms that appear at an unusually early age. Symptoms can start in a person’s thirties, forties, and fifties . Generally, if you are diagnosed with eFAD, then one of your parents will also have had it if he or she lived long enough, and your siblings and your children may have a 50-50 chance of having inherited it. Very rarely, eFAD can make a first-time appearance in a family through a new genetic mutation.
Genetics researchers studied eFAD families to discover the three known genes that cause familial AD: amyloid precursor protein , presenilin-1 , and presenilin-2 . Of these, PS1 mutations account for most eFAD, while APP and PS2 are more rare. Having a pathogenic mutation in one of these three genes virtually guarantees that one will develop early onset Alzheimer disease. Tests can determine which gene is at fauly . There are also cases of eFAD that cannot be linked to one of these three genes. There may be additional genes waiting to be discovered, if only researchers could connect with more eFAD families.
Prognosis: Is eFAD Different from LOAD?
How Common Is Early Onset Familial Alzheimer Disease?
For practical and research purposes, doctors and scientists need defined populations for study and the numbers change based on the definitions. The definition would seem to rest on two criteria:
|Early onset sporadic||Late-onset sporadic|
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What Is Younger Onset Dementia
Younger onset dementia is used to describe any form of dementia that develops in people under the age of 65. Dementia has been diagnosed in people in their 50s, 40s and even in their 30s. It is sometimes called early onset dementia.
Younger onset dementia is similar to other types of dementia in many ways. The same problems generally occur, but the disease can have a different impact on a younger person because they are more likely to be employed full time, raising a family or financially responsible for a family.
Finding A Huge Gap In Services And Supports For Younger People
âI unfortunately ran into that brick wall where I was ineligible for just about everything because of my age.â â Faye.
Most social programs and services are designed for older people with dementia. In comparison, the number of programs designed for people living with young onset dementia is sparse.
People living with young onset dementia may not find the programs intended for older adults interesting or beneficial in respect to their needs. They may not feel comfortable in a seniorsâ program. And even if they were interested and comfortable in joining a program, they might be ineligible because of their age!
We have a gap in our knowledge about young onset dementia. As a result, there simply aren’t enough information, support, financial aid and services adapted for younger people living with dementia.
However, this is changing. The Young Onset Gap Analysis Project, initiated through the National Information Support and Education Committee and the Alzheimer Society of Canada , explored the gaps of available learning and support resources for people living with young onset dementia, and sought advice and feedback from those with lived experience.
The information from this report is being used to develop new resources dedicated to education and support for people living with young onset dementia, families, caregivers and healthcare providers.
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What Are The Differences Between Early
In addition to age, there are other differences between early-onset and late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, including the following:
- Most cases of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease appears to be linked with a genetic defect on chromosome 1 or 14 late-onset Alzheimer’s is not linked to this genetic defect. Also Down syndrome patients develop early onset Alzheimers dementia after the age of 40 because they have an inherent defect on chromosome 21. Some patients who have early onset Alzheimers disease have the ApoE 4/4 gene, which is a very strong genetic risk factor for disease development.
- A condition called myoclonus muscle twitching and spasm is more commonly seen in early-onset Alzheimer’s disease than in late-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
- Some research suggests that people with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease decline at a faster rate than do those with late-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Younger people who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease tend to be more physically fit and active, and many still have family and career responsibilities. As a result, they tend to react differently to the disease, and may be more likely to feel powerless, frustrated and depressed.
Tips for living with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease
Here are some tips for living with Alzheimer’s disease:
Family and friends
Financial and legal matters
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/26/2019.