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How Common Is Early Onset Dementia

Becoming Confused In Familiar Surroundings

Early onset dementia

This is different to: getting confused about the day of the week but working it out later.

Your parent may forget where they are and how they got there. Along with losing track of dates, seasons and the time this is one of the most tell-tale signs of early onset dementia.

They may also struggle to understand something if its not happening immediately. This is because the mind of someone with dementia is mostly situated in the present and they find it difficult to comprehend the passage of time.

For example, your mum may tell you shes missed you because she thinks she hasnt seen you in a long time, but in reality you visited her last week. Another example includes time passing very slowly in a general sense: ten minutes might seem like an hour, an hour might seem like a day and so on.

What Are The Risk Factors

We do not know fully the risk factors for developing young onset dementia. For many people, it just seems to develop. In a proportion of younger people, there is a familial link. Individuals who have at least one close relative with dementia have a two to four times greater risk of developing dementia before the age of 65, most commonly Alzheimers disease. The effect is stronger for those where the close relative had young onset dementia.

A second major risk factor is Downs syndrome. Up to three-quarters of people with Downs syndrome over the age of 50 will develop dementia . This problem is increasingly evident as people with Downs syndrome are living longer now.

In addition, people from black and minority ethnic groups under the age of 65 years seem more likely to be diagnosed with dementia.

How Hard Is It To Get Help

Because it is relatively rare for younger people to be diagnosed with dementia, services and interventions tend to be geared towards people aged 65 years and over. This means that often it is very difficult for younger people and their families to access support, especially at the beginning.

For example, people with dementia are usually seen by an old age psychiatrist, but if the person is under 65, it may not be clear which specialist they should see. Will the local old age psychiatrist be willing to see the person or should it be the neurologist? Accessing services can also be complicated. Which social services team will be responsible for ongoing care management one that deals with mental health among working age adults or one that works with older people with dementia? Can a younger person with dementia attend a day facility for older people? Many younger people with dementia and their families experience great frustration as they work through these bureaucratic hurdles.

Activities too in a range of settings are often planned with much older and more physically frail people in mind. An activity that is suitable for a 90-year-old woman with limited mobility say, a discussion group may be completely inappropriate for an active 50-year-old man with fronto-temporal dementia who wants to walk all day, every day.

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Genetics And Young Onset Dementia

Families affected by early onset dementia may worry that it can be inherited. It is important to point out that not all cases of early onset dementia are thought to be inherited.

One rare form of dementia that can be passed from generation to generation is called Familial Alzheimers. This form of dementia can affect people in their 30s and 40s. Where Familial Alzheimers is present, there is a 50% possibility of passing on the gene to the next generation who would then eventually develop the condition. Some forms of frontal-temporal dementia or Picks condition have a strong family history and in some cases a genetic link has been found. Again, these inherited types of dementia are rare.

Genetic counselling

If you have a family history of these rare types of dementia you can talk to your doctor about genetic counselling and if it is appropriate for your family. Genetic counselling is a process which will help to determine if your family history suggests genetic testing is an option to be considered.

Early Signs Of Dementia And How To Spot Them

Risk Factors For Dementia

Spotting the early signs of Dementia can make all the difference to the progression of the disease. If it is diagnosed during the early stages there is a chance that medication will slow down the diseases that cause the damage to the brain.

Weve put together this guide to the early signs of dementia for you to look out for, and some specific symptoms you can monitor. Please use the links below to navigate the article:

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What Causes Early Onset Dementia

Although the exact trigger of the disease is unknown, research has shown that damage to the nerve cells may be caused by proteins in the brain:

  • Beta-amyloid protein, which forms plaques over the neural tissue and damages memory cells in the brain
  • Tau protein, which forms tangles and kills the neurons

Although these plaques and tangles occur in almost all people as they age, people with Alzheimers disease develop many more, leading to damage in the memory areas of the brain.

While in most cases the disease is sporadic, meaning it can occur without predisposing factors, it is also seen in people with a family history of Alzheimers disease.

Difficulties In Thinking Things Through And Planning

A person may get confused more easily and find it harder to plan, make complex decisions or solve problems.

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You Struggle To Learn New Things

It can be tough to learn new skills, but people with dementia often have a particularly difficult time. If you have early-onset dementia, Zwerling says you might struggle with things like learning how to use a new tool, or when developing a new skill.

You might also notice that you’re suddenly struggling to work with numbers, or that you can’t easily develop or follow a plan. If these traits have always been part of your personality, then you probably don’t have to worry. But don’t hesitate to get more information about your health should these things seem out of the ordinary, or if they start to negatively impact your day.

Your Behaviors & Moods Have Changed

Younger onset dementia (early onset dementia)

While it’s totally normal to experience mood changes throughout the day, a major shift in your personality can be a sign of early-onset dementia. And this is something you may pick up on, or it may be pointed out by a friend.

As Dr. Tawwab says, “A significant shift in personality, like shy to outgoing, can represent a decrease in awareness of inhibitions,” which can be a sign of dementia-related changes in the brain. Usually, this is due to the loss of neurons, and the type of behavioral change involved can depend on the part of the brain affected.

When the frontal lobe is impacted, for example, a person might experience changes in their ability to focus or pay attention, since that’s the area responsible for those actions.

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What Causes Dementia To Progress So Quickly

Dementia symptoms are typically mild at first and progress over time to moderate and then severe, over several years. The speed as which dementia progresses varies between individuals, but some factors can cause dementia to progress more quickly. These include the persons age, the type of dementia, and other long term health problems. Dementia tends to progress more slowly in people over 65 compared to younger people below 65.

Confusion In Actions Or Words

6Another consequence of the weakening of short-term memory, which is primarily affected by dementia, is confusion in words or actions. Trying to open an apartment with a car key, not recognizing recent acquaintances, confusing the events of the past day all this can be manifestations of incipient dementia.

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What Diagnosis Falls Under Alzheimer’s Disease

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.
  • Decreased Or Poor Judgement

    Early onset dementia and Alzheimerâs are affecting younger ...

    This is different to: making a bad decision once in a while.

    Changes in decision-making or judgement might include dealing with money or paying less attention to keeping clean and groomed. This can be one of the more obvious parts of your observation list for early signs of dementia.

    Look out for signs that your parent might not be looking after themselves the way they used to. They may forget to wash regularly, wear the same clothes continuously throughout the week, forget to brush their teeth, forget to brush their hair, shave or to visit the toilet.

    Its vital to make sure your parent is keeping up with any regular appointments they may have. Make sure theyre keeping up with their health and hygiene routines with our guide to keeping healthy.

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    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.

    Early Signs Of Dementia Checklist

    Signs of early onset dementia usually affect people in their 50s and early 60s. But is it really a dementia sign or is it just a something we do as we get older?

    Signs of Dementia/Alzheimers:
    Making a bad decision once in a while
    Inability to manage a budgetMissing a monthly payment
    Losing track of the date or the seasonForgetting what day it is and remembering later
    Difficulty having a conversationSometimes forgetting which word to use
    Misplacing things and being unable to retrace steps to find themLosing things from time to time

    As dementia is a progressive neurological disorder, there are many stages and dementia symptoms. The changes are gradual, and this may give your parent time to receive an early diagnosis and to slow down or prevent the disease from progressing.

    Fortunately, the first signs of dementia can be spotted before the symptoms make a big impact on day-to-day living and overall quality of life. For more information on the various stages of dementia, download our free and comprehensive dementia guide.

    Sometimes dementia diagnosis can be difficult as there is no one simple test to carry out and early symptoms can be similar to the age-related changes listed above. Here are 10 early signs of Dementia to look out for.

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    Young Onset Dementia Facts And Figures

    As with dementia generally, there is conflicting information about the prevalence of young onset dementia. The low levels of awareness and the difficulties of diagnosing the condition at working-age mean popularly used statistics are likely to be inaccurate and do not reflect the true number of people who are affected. The facts and figures stated below relate to the UK.

    Confusion About Location And Time

    Dementia: The Causes

    The person may experience confusion about places or times. They may have difficulty keeping track of seasons, months, or times of day.

    They may become confused in an unfamiliar place. As Alzheimers disease progresses, they may feel confused in familiar places or wonder how they got there. They may also start to wander and get lost.

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    Struggling To Adapt To Change

    For someone in the early stages of dementia, the experience can cause fear. Suddenly, they cant remember people they know or follow what others are saying. They cant remember why they went to the store, and they get lost on the way home.

    Because of this, they might crave routine and be afraid to try new experiences. Difficulty adapting to change is also a typical symptom of early dementia.

    A Personal Alarm Built With Dementia In Mind

    If you care for someone with dementia, you may want to consider a system like the CPR Guardian Smartwatch. This light and stylish watch is often preferred by elderly relatives who are used to wearing a watch every day. The CPR Guardian can pair with a carers smartphone, enabling them to find out the wearers GPS location and communicate with the wearer directly through the watch. The watch also comes with an SOS button that alerts the carer directly when pressed. It can even monitor the wearers heart rate! All of these features mean that there is always a way to keep track of your relative with dementia, make sure theyre okay, and be alerted if there is ever a problem.

    Sponsored by CPR Guardian

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    Discussing Dementia Symptoms With Dr Alex Bailey

    In a new episode of the Age Space Podcast, we talk to Dr Alex Bailey, an old age psychiatrist working in Westminster, sharing his thoughts and advice on dementia. This includes identifying the early signs of dementia, details of memory services, supporting those with dementia to live well, psychological therapies, supporting carers and much more. Listen to the dementia explained podcast.

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    How Is Early Onset Dementia And Alzheimers Diagnosed

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    Many people with early onset dementia face difficulty with getting an accurate or timely diagnosis, as well as increased medical costs and lack of proper medical care. This is because early onset dementia is uncommon and symptoms are often misinterpreted, leading to delays in diagnosis and untreated disease progression.

    In general, diagnosis is made by examining:

    • Family history
    • Duration of presenting complaints of dementia
    • Cognitive tests to assess memory, problem-solving, or other mental skills
    • Blood tests and urine tests to assess whether there are abnormal protein levels in the body
    • Computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging scans to assess the extent of tissue damage in the brain

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    Understanding Early Onset Dementia

    Some chapters of the Alzheimer’s Association are beginning to use the name younger-onset dementia instead of early-onset dementia. Members of the association state there can be confusion for families hearing the diagnosis of early-onset dementia. âEarly onset” does not refer to the stage of the disease it refers to the age at which a person is diagnosed with dementia.

    Stage : Age Associated Memory Impairment

    This stage features occasional lapses of memory most frequently seen in:

    • Forgetting where one has placed an object
    • Forgetting names that were once very familiar

    Oftentimes, this mild decline in memory is merely normal age-related cognitive decline, but it can also be one of the earliest signs of degenerative dementia. At this stage, signs are still virtually undetectable through clinical testing. Concern for early onset of dementia should arise with respect to other symptoms.

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    Frequently Misplacing Items And Not Being Able To Retrace Steps

    Most people will lose items at some time, but they are usually able to locate them again by searching in logical locations and retracing their steps.

    However, someone with Alzheimers disease may forget where they placed an item, especially if they put it in an unusual place. They may also be unable to retrace their steps to find the missing item. This can be distressing and may cause the person to believe that someone is stealing from them.

    Can Alzheimer’s Disease Be Prevented

    Early-Onset Dementia

    As the exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is not clear, there’s no known way to prevent the condition.

    But there are things you can do that may reduce your risk or delay the onset of dementia, such as:

    These measures have other health benefits, such as lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease and improving your overall mental health.

    Read more about preventing Alzheimer’s disease.

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    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!

    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.

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