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Can You Have Dementia At A Young Age

What Is Younger Onset Dementia

Dementia can happen at any age

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.

Difficulty Finding The Right Words

Another early symptom of dementia is struggling to communicate thoughts. A person with dementia may have difficulty explaining something or finding the right words to express themselves. Having a conversation with a person who has dementia can be difficult, and it may take longer than usual to conclude.

Symptoms Specific To Dementia With Lewy Bodies

Dementia with Lewy bodies has many of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, and people with the condition typically also experience:

  • periods of being alert or drowsy, or fluctuating levels of confusion
  • visual hallucinations
  • becoming slower in their physical movements
  • repeated falls and fainting

Read more about dementia with Lewy bodies.

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Ability To Complete Common Tasks

Early-onset dementia can lead to the inability to perform certain tasks that were at one point easy, such as finding directions, solving problems, managing finances, performing previously mastered tasks at work, etc. “In memory loss due to aging, the general processing speed may slow down, one may have occasional difficulty recalling new names or ideas, and once in a while, one may lose track of thought in a conversation,”Ayesha Sherzai, MD author of The Alzheimerâs Solution, tells Bustle. “But generally one is able to carry out all the activities of daily living without much difficulty.”

Other Forms Of Dementia Common In Younger People

Early Onset Dementia: Causes and Common Symptoms

Younger people are more susceptible to other, more unusual forms of dementia . Some examples are fronto-temporal dementia , Korsakoffs syndrome and HIV-related dementia.

Each form of dementia has characteristic symptoms, as well as more general symptoms of dementia. For example, fronto-temporal dementia affects the frontal lobe and/or the temporal parts of the brain, which deal with behaviour, emotional responses and language skills. If this part of the brain is damaged, a person may start to display inappropriate, disinhibited behaviour, such as swearing loudly and often. People with Lewy body dementia may experience visual hallucinations, irregular sleep patterns and falls. If care staff know this sort of information, they are far better equipped to respond to the particular needs of the individuals they are working with.

Dementia can be more severe in a younger person and is often associated with physical symptoms and rapid progression. This is particularly the case with rare forms of dementia such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and HIV-related dementia.

To find out more about these and other forms of dementia go to the Alzheimers Society website and see its factsheet on Younger people with dementia.

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Why Your Memory Is Bad And What To Do About It

Edited and medically reviewed by Patrick Alban, DC | Written by Deane Alban

Memory loss happens at all ages. Knowing the difference between normal and serious memory problems is important. Learn about the actions you should take.

A bad memory is frustrating and can be downright scary.

If your memory isnt what it used to be, you might assume that your memory issues are an inevitable part of getting older.

If your memory gets bad enough, you may think that youre headed for dementia or Alzheimers.

But memory problems can happen at any age and, in fact, are usually more a result of lifestyle habits than age-related mental decline.

There are many potential reasons for a bad memory, and fortunately, most are not serious or permanent.

Just as importantly, there are many steps you can take to improve your memory.

What Conditions Can Be Mistaken For Dementia

The term dementia refers to a specific group of symptoms related to a decline in mental ability. Often, people who experience subtle short-term memory changes, are easily confused, or exhibit different behaviors or personality traits are mistakenly thought to have dementia. These symptoms could be the result of a variety of other conditions or disorders, including other neurocognitive disorders such as Parkinsons disease, brain growths or tumors, mild cognitive impairment , and mood disorders, like depression.

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You’ve Been Experiencing Memory Changes

If you’re developing dementia, one of the first symptoms you might experience is a change in your ability to remember things, which might include forgetting what you just got up to do, or losing your train of thought mid-sentence.

“Signs of early-onset dementia include short-term memory changes, often described as an ‘inability to keep a thought in your head,'”Dr. Faisal Tawwab, MD, tells Bustle. So, if your words escape you, or you’ve suddenly become super forgetful, take note.

What Diagnosis Falls Under Alzheimer’s Disease

early onset dementia

Alzheimers disease is a diagnosis in itself. When it is noticeable clinically and identified early on, the formal diagnosis may be Mild Cognitive Impairment due to Alzheimers disease which may later develop into a diagnosis of dementia due to Alzheimers disease.

  • Alzheimers Association. Stages of Alzheimers. Accessed May 27, 2021.
  • National Institute on Aging. Alzheimers Disease Fact Sheet. Content reviewed May 2019. Accessed May 27, 2021.
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    Symptoms Specific To Vascular Dementia

    Vascular dementia is the second most common cause of dementia, after Alzheimer’s. Some people have both vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, often called “mixed dementia”.

    Symptoms of vascular dementia are similar to Alzheimer’s disease, although memory loss may not be as obvious in the early stages.

    Symptoms can sometimes develop suddenly and quickly get worse, but they can also develop gradually over many months or years.

    Specific symptoms can include:

    • stroke-like symptoms: including muscle weakness or temporary paralysis on one side of the body
    • movement problems difficulty walking or a change in the way a person walks
    • thinking problems having difficulty with attention, planning and reasoning
    • mood changes depression and a tendency to become more emotional

    Read more about vascular dementia.

    Vascular Dementia And Vascular Cognitive Impairment

    The term vascular dementia has been problematic for the same reasons as the term dementia, and the term vascular cognitive impairment is preferable. Impairment of episodic memory is less prominent in vascular dementia than in Alzheimer’s disease, particularly in patients with small vessel disease in whom impairment of executive function and cognitive slowing are more common. White matter changes indicative of small vessel disease and lacunar infarcts are commonly seen on MRI scans in elderly individuals and are particularly common in association with Alzheimer’s disease, often indicating mixed dementia. In younger patients there is usually, but not invariably, an association with vascular risk factors but intensive investigation might identify rarer causes, including mitochondrial disease or cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy . Amyloid angiopathy is important to recognise as some patients might have an inflammatory component that could be responsive to steroids lobar microhaemorrhages seen on T2*-weighted MRI might help detection. APP duplications are commonly associated with a prominent amyloid angiopathy with cerebral haemorrhages and seizures. Treatable causes such as cerebral vasculitis are also more commonly found in younger patients than in the elderly.

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    Where To Get Help

    • Your local community health centre
    • National Dementia Helpline Dementia Australia Tel. 1800 100 500
    • Aged Care Assessment Services Tel. 1300 135 090
    • My Aged Care 1800 200 422
    • Cognitive Dementia and Memory Service clinics Tel. 1300 135 090
    • Carers Victoria Tel. 1800 242 636
    • Commonwealth Carelink and Respite Centres Australian Government Tel. 1800 052 222
    • Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service Tel. 1800 699 799 for 24-hour telephone advice for carers and care workers

    Getting An Accurate Diagnosis

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    â with young onset is that dementia is not something that they think about initially. If youâre a woman, the first thing they think about is menopause and depression and anxiety and panic and sleep disorders and all those kinds of things.â â Faye, from Windsor Junction, Nova Scotia. Faye lives with young onset Alzheimer’s disease.

    Diagnosing dementia can be a long and complicated process. For younger people, itâs even more complicated and frustrating. Healthcare providers are often reluctant to diagnose dementia in someone so young, and itâs common for a person who has young onset dementia to be misdiagnosed with another condition, such as depression.

    As a a result, the person living with young onset dementia may not get the appropriate knowledge, treatment and support to fight the disease.

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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.

    Can You Really Get Dementia In Your 30s Or 40s

    The Alzheimers Society hopes increasing evidence of the numbers of people with early onset dementia some in their 30s and 40s will lead to better diagnosis

    If youve watched a parent or grandparent go through the unforgiving torment of dementia, or visited relatives in a care home where other residents have the disease, you may associate it mainly with the frail and elderly.

    But new figures show early onset dementia affects far more people in the UK than had previously been thought with the increase attributed not to a greater prevalence of illness but the fact that younger people may either be too frightened to seek help, or are turned away or misdiagnosed when they do. Thousands of those affected are in their 40s and more than 700 are in their 30s.

    People are reluctant to go to their GP because theyre afraid of what might happen, explains George McNamara, head of policy at the Alzheimers Society. These are people whove got families and mortgages to pay. The stigma which still exists around dementia can mean they may have to give up working unnecessarily because of a lack of understanding about the condition. Accessing things like travel insurance might become difficult. People with dementia tell us they often lose friends.

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    Medications That Cause Memory Loss

    Memory loss is an extremely common side effect of prescription drugs.

    Armon B. Neel, Jr, PharmD, is a geriatric pharmacist who formerly wrote AARPs Ask a Pharmacist column and penned the eye-opening exposé Are Your Prescriptions Killing You?.

    He reveals in his book that prescription drug interactions may be responsible for as many as three out of four dementia cases.

    This is horrifying, and largely avoidable.

    Cholesterol-lowering medications and sleeping pills are two of the worst offenders.

    But not all medications that cause memory loss are prescription-only.

    Some of the most popular over-the-counter remedies for treating allergies, colds, coughs, skin irritations, insomnia, headaches, and pain cause memory loss by blocking the formation of acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter associated with memory and learning.

    You’ve Been Getting Easily Confused

    Younger onset dementia (early onset dementia)

    Another typical sign of dementia, that may seem a bit bizarre, is forgetting what to do with everyday objects. According to Jessica Zwerling, MD, MS, director of the Memory Disorders Center at the Montefiore Health System, you might momentarily forget where to put your groceries, for example, or how to use your phone.

    It can be a scary experience, and is definitely something you’ll want to point out to a doctor. And the same is true if you experience other forms of forgetfulness, such as suddenly needing to follow a recipe for dishes you make all the time. It’s this inability to remember simple, everyday things that can be cause for concern.

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    What Are The Symptoms Of Younger Onset Dementia

    The symptoms of dementia are similar no matter what age they start. They include:

    • memory loss that interferes with daily life
    • confusion
    • withdrawing from friends and family
    • losing the ability to think clearly or make judgements
    • language problems
    • changes to behaviour

    Many conditions can produce symptoms that are similar to dementia, such as vitamin and hormone deficiencies, depression, medication, infections and brain tumours.

    How To Diagnose Alzheimers Vs Dementia

    Alzheimers is a progressive and fatal brain disorder. Dementia is not a specific disease, but an umbrella term that defines a syndrome and used to refer to a specific group of symptoms related to a decline in mental ability. Alzheimers is one of the most common causes of dementia. Both Alzheimers and dementia are diagnosed using a variety of different assessments and tests, including a physical exam, lab tests, cognitive and neuropsychological tests, and an analysis of changes in behavior.

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    You Can’t Remember That Restaurant’s Name

    If you constantly forget what you had for breakfast, or can’t recall the name of that restaurant you just went to, consider it a red flag. “The most common sign is memory problems that interfere with your daily life,” Dr. Fillit says. “You may have trouble remembering familiar names or places on a regular basis.”

    It may not seem like a big deal. But if you find yourself struggling to remember details like these, or if this has become a frustrating problem, point it out to a doctor so they can monitor the situation.

    Young Onset Vs Early Stage


    It’s important to know that term “young onset dementia” does not mean the early stage of dementia. While most people diagnosed with young onset dementia are likely experiencing mild symptoms that indicate they are in the early stage, “young onset” and “early stage” have different meanings. A 57-year-old living with young onset dementia could already be in the late stage, while a 80-year-old just diagnosed with dementia might be in the early stage.

    It’s also important to note that young onset dementia encompasses all types of dementia. If a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease â the most common type of dementia âunder the age of 65, then that person can be said to have young onset Alzheimer’s disease. Likewise, if a person is diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia under 65, then that person has young onset frontotemporal dementia.

    However, each person living with young onset dementia has their own preferred term to describe their dementia â ask them what they prefer!

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    How Accurate Is It

    This quiz is NOT a diagnostic tool. Mental health disorders can only be diagnosed by licensed healthcare professionals.

    Psycom believes assessments can be a valuable first step toward getting treatment. All too often people stop short of seeking help out of fear their concerns arent legitimate or severe enough to warrant professional intervention.

    If you think you or someone you care about may be suffering from dementia or any other mental health condition, strongly recommends that you seek help from a mental health professional in order to receive a proper diagnosis and support. For those in crisis, we have compiled a list of resources where you may be able to find additional help at:

    What Is Young Onset Dementia

    Dementia is a degeneration of the brain that causes a progressive decline in peoples ability to think, reason, communicate and remember. Their personality, behaviour and mood can also be affected. Everyones experience of dementia is unique and the progression of the condition varies. Some symptoms are more likely to occur with certain types of dementia.

    Dementia is described as young onset when symptoms develop before the age of 65, usually between 30 to 65 years of age. It is also referred to as early onset or working age dementia, but these terms can cause confusion. Early onset can be interpreted as the early stages of dementia and working age is now less defined as retirement age is more flexible.

    As dementia is frequently, and wrongly, thought of as a condition that is just associated with old age, the early symptoms of young onset dementia are not always recognised and may be attributed to other causes including depression, stress, menopause, physical health problems and relationship issues. This can lead to a significant delay in getting an accurate diagnosis and access to appropriate support. This can have a negative impact on not just the person with dementias life but also the whole family.

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    Prevalence Of Young Onset Dementia In The Uk

    • It is estimated that there are 42,325 people in the UK who have been diagnosed with young onset dementia. . They represent around 5% of the 850,000 people with dementia. For the overview report click here.
    • The actual figure could be higher because of the difficulties of diagnosing the condition and might be closer to 6-9% of all people with dementia. Awareness amongst GPs is still relatively low and when people are still at work, symptoms are often attributed to stress or depression.

    Panel : Dementia Plus Syndromes And Associated Diseasesneurological Features

    1 Early signs of dementia


    Spinocerebellar ataxia , paraneoplastic diseases, prion diseases , DRPLA , fragile x-associated tremor ataxia syndrome, familial British and Danish dementias, mitochondrial disorders, superficial siderosis, neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis , Niemann-Pick disease type C, multiple system atrophy , Alexander’s disease, and multiple sclerosis

    Pyramidal signs

    Multiple sclerosis, frontotemporal lobar degeneration with motor neuron disease, Alzheimer’s disease , spinocerebellar ataxias, phenylketonuria, familial British and Danish dementias, hereditary spastic paraparesis , adrenoleukodystrophy, vanishing white matter disease, polyglucosan body disease, polycystic lipomembranous sclerosing leukoencephalopathy


    Huntington’s disease , Kuf’s disease , Wilson’s disease, neuroacanthocytosis, pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration , Lesch-Nyhan syndrome, DRPLA, corticobasal degeneration, neuroferritinopathy, anti-NMDA receptor-mediated limbic encephalitis, variant CJD

    Bucco-lingual mutilation

    Neuroacanthocytosis, Lesch-Nyhan syndrome

    Akinetic-rigid syndrome

    Lewy body disease , progressive supranuclear palsy, multiple system atrophy , Huntington’s disease , corticobasal degeneration, dementia pugilistica, Wilson’s disease, pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration , frontotemporal lobar degeneration with parkinsonism-17, Alzheimer’s disease

    Peripheral neuropathy

    Myoclonus or early seizures

    Gaze palsy



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