When To See A Doctor
Forgetfulness and memory problems dont automatically point to dementia. These are normal parts of aging and can also occur due to other factors, such as fatigue. Still, you shouldnt ignore the symptoms. If you or someone you know is experiencing a number of dementia symptoms that arent improving, talk with a doctor.
They can refer you to a neurologist who can examine you or your loved ones physical and mental health and determine whether the symptoms result from dementia or another cognitive problem. The doctor may order:
- a complete series of memory and mental tests
- a neurological exam
- brain imaging tests
If youre concerned about your forgetfulness and dont already have a neurologist, you can view doctors in your area through the Healthline FindCare tool.
Dementia is more common in people over the age of 65, but it can also affect younger people. Early onset of the disease can begin when people are in their 30s, 40s, or 50s. With treatment and early diagnosis, you can slow the progression of the disease and maintain mental function. The treatments may include medications, cognitive training, and therapy.
Possible causes of dementia include:
Why Would Anyone Want An Early Alzheimers Diagnosis
The SAGE test is useful because it helps you understand if your concerns are something to be worried about.
If the results seem to indicate that there could be a problem, you might think theres no point in talking with the doctor because theres no cure for dementia.
The most important is that a treatable condition could be the cause of cognitive impairment. Finding out sooner means getting treatment ASAP to eliminate the cognitive symptoms.
If the cognitive impairment is caused by Alzheimers or dementia, a major benefit is that starting treatment early is far more effective in managing symptoms and delaying progression of the disease.
Can Alzheimer’s Disease Be Prevented
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:
- staying physically fit and mentally active
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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Confusion About Location And Time
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.
Addressing Early Onset Alzheimers Symptoms
Fortunately, there are ways to begin treating some of the symptoms of early onset Alzheimers once its been identified, and there are ways of coping with the disease.
Family members may often have to advocate for their loved one if theyre experiencing these symptoms at a young age. Thats because primary care doctors, Ellison said, often do not have the specialized training to understand early symptoms of dementia and they typically have less and less time to spend with their patients.
Its critically important for families to persist, he said, because other treatable diseases may be causing dementia-like symptoms. Untreated attention disorder deficit, Ellison said, can often look like early dementia. In other cases,;gastrointestinal issues cause dementia-like symptoms or multiple medications may be causing a negative reaction.
The first step is to check in with your doctor and ask for a memory or cognition test. Once you or your loved one has been assessed, your primary care doctor should refer you to a dementia specialist to run further tests and ultimately arrive at a diagnosis.
Being able to diagnose the disease early on can help your doctor tailor a treatment plan that may help slow the progression of the disease.
One critical reason to address early signs of dementia is the fact that Ellison and other experts say changes in lifestylediet, exercise and other stepscan help delay onset of full dementia.
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What Is Early Onset Alzheimers And How Young Can It Start
In Still Alice, Julianne Moore played the role of Dr. Alice Howland. She was a linguistics professor, diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers.
In the movie, Howland got diagnosed shortly after celebrating her 50th birthday. You could say thats too young. But there are people in their 30s and 40s who exhibit early onset Alzheimers symptoms.
So what is early onset Alzheimers? Heres an overview of the condition and the kind of prognosis patients can expect.
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.
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Dementia Care Tips From Experienced Caregivers
Caring for someone with dementia isnt intuitive and doesnt come naturally. Theres a lot to learn, but you dont have to figure everything out the hard way.
In a helpful article at Verywell, social worker Esther Heerema shares 12 dementia care tips that caregivers have learned and wished theyd known sooner.
This advice isnt meant to add pressure or expectations to your already tough job. Theyre tips from caregivers who have been there and done that that can lighten your load, reduce stress, and help you cope with the challenges.
Here, we share highlights from Esthers article along with some of our own insights.
1. Its not worth it to argue with someone who has dementiaAlzheimers and dementia causes your older adults brain to malfunction. When they say things that dont make sense or are clearly untrue, they believe what theyre saying because its what their brain is telling them.
Its frustrating to hear things that arent true and instinctive to try to correct or remind. But that will only lead to both of you arguing or getting upset. And you simply cant win an argument with someone who can no longer use reason or logic consistently.
2. Ignoring symptoms wont make them go awayWhen you notice your older adult struggling with memory, thinking, or judgement, its scary to think that they might have dementia. Because it can be so hard to accept, many people hope that the symptoms will go away on their own or that theyre mistaken.
The Effects Of Being Diagnosed At A Young Age
The personal and social consequences of young onset dementia can be much different than those experienced by people diagnosed with dementia later in life.
People living with young onset dementia are often still working at the time of diagnosis, are physically fit, and may have dependent children or parents at home. They may have major financial commitments, like a mortgage or student loan, that they are looking to pay off.
The diagnosis of dementia, and the changes it will bring, can only increase the stress of handling these responsibilities. With dementia now in the mix, it’s natural for a younger person just diagnosed with dementia to think, “What’s next!?” and worry about how they can meet handling their responsibilities.
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Supporting Someone With Early
The first step in offering support to a relative with Early-Onset Alzheimers is to get an accurate diagnosis as early as possible. A proper diagnosis will help your loved one in numerous ways. For one thing,it can rule out other possible causes. Just as important, the diagnosis paves the way for the right sort of treatment.In addition, the diagnosis enables you and other family members to provide the right kind of compassion and support. Plus, the earlier the diagnosis is reached, the more time you will have to address not only health-related issues, but legal, financial and personal ones as well.
If your loved one is still in the workplace, you can help them cope with how they will handle their job. People dealing with early-onset Alzheimers may also have to cope with the judgments of their employer as well as their co-workers. They may need to switch jobs or face the prospect of an early retirement and may need to learn how to live with fewer financial resources.Youll want to become familiar with your relatives benefits, including any employer-sponsored assistance programs. Also look into the American with Disabilities Act along with other government options like COBRA or the Family and Medical Leave Act.You may also need to think beyond the needs of your loved one. For example, their spouse or partners life might transition to a caretaking role.
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.
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Take The Sage Test At Home
Anyone can take the SAGE test anytime. Its free and you can get it here on the Ohio State University website.
Print the test and take it with a pen or pencil. Theres no time limit, but most people finish in about 15 minutes.
Sample questions from the test:
- How many nickels are in 60 cents?
- You are buying $13.45 of groceries. How much change would you receive back from a $20 bill?
- Write down the names of 12 different animals.
- Draw a large face of a clock and place in the numbers.Position the hands for 10 minutes after 11 oclock. On your clock, label L for the long hand and S for the short hand.
I Was Diagnosed With Early
Dan Jaworski didnt notice his symptoms at first, but his wife Julie knew something was wrong.
Alzheimers is generally considered a disease of old agethe risk of developing the degenerative brain condition rises exponentially for every decade over age 65. But in around 5% of all cases, the symptoms can begin much earlier, in what is known as early-onset Alzheimers. In some cases, it may be due to genetics, but in the majority of those diagnosed with Alzheimers in their 30s, 40s, or 50s, there is no known cause. Here is one familys story.
Dan and I have been married for 33 yearswe were high school sweethearts. We have two amazing kids, who are 24 and 28, and our first grandbaby on the way. Dan has always had a short attention span, but I first started to notice something was different around three years ago, when he couldnt remember things I had just told him. He would forget where he parked the car, even when it was in a really obvious spot, and one time we were at my parents house and we had to tear down a backyard shed, and he must have asked me six times what we were doing with the shed. It started getting really annoying! I had to stop and figure it out. Is he just not paying attention?
Then in 2019, we took a family trip to Thailand, and I asked the kids to watch Dan and let me know if they noticed something was going on or if it was just me going crazy. At the end of the trip, they said to me, Please take Dad to see a doctor. He had just turned 54.
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Why People May Not Want A Diagnosis
A survey carried out by YouGov in 2011 revealed that dementia is peoples biggest fear in later life ahead of cancer and any other illnesses . Concerns over the impact on their daily lives particularly their jobs, social lives and ability to drive mean that some people showing early signs of dementia choose to not seek a diagnosis.
The benefits of an early diagnosis far outweigh these fears a person showing symptoms of dementia may in fact be suffering from a treatable condition, and someone with dementia can only have access to the right care and support after diagnosis.
Norman McNamara again, talking about being diagnosed with dementia at the age of 50, says:
It is very hard sometimes for people to accept they have got dementia because of the stigma with it and connected to it. But if you had a pain in your back or in your chest, or a throb in your legs or your feet and you didnt know what it was, you would go to a doctor. Yet, with dementia, people seem to shy away from it. But knowing whats wrong with you is so important. You cant hide away from it.
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Early Onset Alzheimers: You Dont Need To Do It Alone
Now that you know what is early onset Alzheimers, you understand how it can affect people of your age. If you or a loved one has early onset Alzheimers, dont lose hope.
There are assisted living facilities that can help. They specialize in caring for those who have Alzheimers disease or dementia. They can provide resources and activities in ways that family care cant help.
If you need more information, dont hesitate to contact us.
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How To Identify The Signs Of Early
The symptoms of early-onset Alzheimers disease are similar to many of the symptoms with late-onset Alzheimers. This ranges from personality changes to low energy, memory issues, mood swings, attention problems, and difficulty in finding the right words to say. One common distinction between the early and late-onset types is that early-onset Alzheimers patients tend to develop memory problems later in the progression of the disease. The memory loss may also be less severe. Here are eleven signs and symptoms that may occur in people with early-onset Alzheimers disease:
Health Environmental And Lifestyle Factors That May Contribute To Alzheimer’s Disease
Research suggests that a host of factors beyond genetics may play a role in the development and course of Alzheimer’s disease. There is a great deal of interest, for example, in the relationship between cognitive decline and vascular conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure, as well as metabolic conditions such as diabetes and obesity. Ongoing research will help us understand whether and how reducing risk factors for these conditions may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
A nutritious diet, physical activity, social engagement, sleep, and mentally stimulating pursuits have all been associated with helping people stay healthy as they age. These factors might also help reduce the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. Clinical trials are testing some of these possibilities.
Early-life factors may also play a role. For example, studies have linked higher levels of education with a decreased risk of dementia. There are also differences in dementia risk among racial groups and sexesall of which are being studied to better understand the causes of Alzheimers disease and to develop effective treatments and preventions for all people.
How Is It Diagnosed
There is no one test indicating Alzheimer’s. A thorough medical history and complete medical exam can help rule out other health issues that might produce dementia-type symptoms. A neurological test of cognitive function, including counting, memory and problem solving, may be given. Blood tests and brain imaging–typically an MRI–can indicate other possible conditions. In some highly individual cases genetic testing may be considered in making a diagnosis. This depends on a variety of factors, including the age of the patient and availability of family members who may have already developed the disease. Cost and insurance coverage can be another factor, since the test is expensive.
What Are The Benefits Of Early Diagnosis
Early planning and assistanceEarly diagnosis enables a person with dementia and their family to receive help in understanding and adjusting to the diagnosis and to prepare for the future in an appropriate way. This might include making legal and financial arrangements, changes to living arrangements, and finding out about aids and services that will enhance quality of life for people with dementia and their family and friends. Early diagnosis can allow the individual to have an active role in decision making and planning for the future while families can educate themselves about the disease and learn effective ways of interacting with the person with dementia.
Checking concernsChanges in memory and thinking ability can be very worrying. Symptoms of dementia can be caused by several different diseases and conditions, some of which are treatable and reversible, including infections, depression, medication side-effects or nutritional deficiencies. The sooner the cause of dementia symptoms is identified, the sooner treatment can begin. Asking a doctor to check any symptoms and to identify the cause of symptoms can bring relief to people and their families.
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