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.
Getting An Accurate Diagnosis
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.
Managing Alzheimer’s Disease Behavior
Common behavioral symptoms of Alzheimers include sleeplessness, wandering, agitation, anxiety, and aggression. Scientists are learning why these symptoms occur and are studying new treatments drug and nondrug to manage them. Research has shown that treating behavioral symptoms can make people with Alzheimers more comfortable and makes things easier for caregivers.
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Not Being Able To Follow Recipes
Something as minor as whipping up a home-cooked meal can be a struggle for those in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. If someone loses their ability to follow a recipeespecially one they’ve made a thousand timesthat might be an indication of the cognitive changes that commonly occur in the early stages of the disease.
Problems Writing Or Speaking
The person may also have difficulty with words and communication. They may find it hard to follow or contribute to a conversation, or they may repeat themselves. They may also have difficulty writing down their thoughts.
The person may stop in the middle of a conversation, unable to figure out what to say next. They may also struggle to find the right word or label things incorrectly.
It is not uncommon for people to occasionally struggle to find the right word. Typically, they eventually remember it and do not experience the problem frequently.
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Decline In Physical Hygiene
Even if someone was strict about keeping up with good hygiene before, that may change once they begin to showcase signs of Alzheimer’s. Due to the changes in cognitive function that occur with this disease, things like taking baths or showers, changing clothes, and flossing become more difficult, says the Alzheimer’s Association. And for more ways to improve your personal well-being, check out the 100 Easy Ways to Be a Much Healthier Person, According to Science.
Withdrawing From Work And Social Life
People with early onset Alzheimers, who were once industrious and focused at their challenging jobs, may begin noticing a drop in concentration, motivation or productivity thats out of character for them. They may also find themselves isolating from family, friends, coworkers or hobbies that they used to previously enjoy.
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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.
Identification Of The Major Mendelian Early
A crucial genetic discovery in EOADwhich has been massively influential for the course of research into all forms of ADoccurred 30 years ago with the mapping of a missense variant in APP that segregated with disease in an autosomal-dominant EOAD family . Subsequent studies identified pathogenic variants in PSEN1 and PSEN2 in additional autosomal-dominant AD families . Analysis of LOAD families has more recently resulted in the identification of rare, risk-conferring variants and established pathogenic variants in APP, PSEN1, and PSEN2, thus suggesting that these genes may also be relevant for the more common, late-onset variety of AD . Additional studies using data from the AD Sequencing Project also provide suggestive evidence that rare variation in PSEN1 increases risk for LOAD . Given the potent influence that the amyloid cascade hypothesis has had on the field and on AD drug development, the finding that variants in these genes may also confer risk for LOAD provides important support for the generalizability of this hypothesis to all forms of AD.
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What Causes Alzheimers Disease
In recent years, scientists have made tremendous progress in better understanding Alzheimers and the momentum continues to grow. Still, scientists dont yet fully understand what causes Alzheimers disease in most people. In people with early-onset Alzheimers, a genetic mutation may be the cause. Late-onset Alzheimers arises from a complex series of brain changes that may occur over decades. The causes probably include a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. The importance of any one of these factors in increasing or decreasing the risk of developing Alzheimers may differ from person to person.
Dementia With Lewy Bodies
Dementia with Lewy bodies is caused by the build-up of tiny protein deposits in the brain. DLB is less common in younger people with dementia than in older people. Lewy bodies also cause Parkinsons disease and about one-third of people with Parkinsons eventually develop dementia.Symptoms of dementia with Lewy bodies can include hallucinations and varying levels of alertness. People can also develop the features of Parkinsons disease .
What is dementia with Lewy bodies?
Find out more about dementia with Lewy bodies, diagnosis and how to treat it.
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Getting Connected To Services After Diagnosis
â said, âOh, this is great, we have a diagnosis, what do we do now? Is there a pill, orâ¦?â And this is when the doctor said: âNo, thereâs no pill, thereâs nothing that we can do at all,â and youâll have to basically âgo home, get your affairs in order because you will die from this.ââ â from Ontario. Mary Beth lives with young onset frontotemporal dementia.
Even after an accurate diagnosis is made, a younger person with dementia is still likely to face obstacles. These obstacles may start with being unable to get more information about dementia or find referral to dementia-focused programs and services in their community.
We know that many people living with dementia go on to live very fulfilling lives for quite some time. Unfortunately, due to lack of knowledge and training, some healthcare providers still seem to offer little hope or support for life after diagnosis.
However, even if their doctor is helpful and can suggest practical next steps, there is another significant obstacle for the person diagnosed with young onset dementia to overcome.
What Happens In The Early Stage Of Dementia
Dementia affects everyone differently and early symptoms are often relatively mild and not always easy to notice.
Many people at the early stage of dementia stay largely independent and only need a bit of assistance with daily living. It is important to focus on what the person can do and not to take over and do things for them. Instead, try doing things with them, for example helping the person develop a routine, reminder lists and prompts, and use technology.
For more information for people living with dementia, see the ‘Keeping active and involved‘ page.
The early stage of dementia is when many people choose to make plans for the future, while they still have the ability to do so. This includes making a Lasting power of attorney , and advance decisions and advance statements to ensure their wishes and preferences are made clear.
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Additional Mechanisms: De Novo Variants Copy Number Variation Epigenetic Modifications And Somatic Variation
In individuals with apparently sporadic EOAD with very early-onset , variants in PSEN1 were identified in 13% of cases in one study, and in the subset of cases for which parental DNA was available, all variants were found to have occurred de novo . These findings suggest that PSEN1 may be an important contributor to apparently sporadic AD cases with very early-onset , either due to de novo variants or because the cases transmitting parent died before the onset of AD . Besides smaller variants in MAPT, a rare duplication encompassing the MAPT locus is known to underlie some cases of early-onset dementia resembling AD clinically . Additional copy number variations and other structural variation have also been found in mEOAD, including duplication of APP , deletion of PSEN1 exon 9 , and other rare CNVs involving additional genes . In addition, work from our group has implicated rare variation in TET2encoding an enzyme that promotes DNA demethylationin EOAD as well as FTD risk . Given that methylation within SORL1, ABCA7, and other loci has been associated with AD risk , the results suggest that epigenetic modifications should be explored further for their contribution to EOAD risk. Finally, further exploration of mosaicism and brain somatic variation for their role in AD represent a promising area for future research.
What Are The Symptoms Of Alzheimers
Recognizing the signs of Alzheimers early in the course of the disease can sometimes be difficult. Weve all misplaced our keys or forgotten someones name. Thats common and shouldnt necessarily be a cause for concern. The first symptoms of Alzheimers vary from person to person. For many, decline in non-memory aspects of cognition, such as word-finding, vision/spatial issues, and impaired reasoning or judgment may signal the very early stages of the disease.2 This disease affects all sorts of things, from memory and mood swings, to the ability to complete everyday tasks. Signs of Alzheimers include:3
- Getting lost in familiar places
- Having trouble finding words to describe objects or express thoughts
- Difficulty concentrating and thinking
- Making poor or uncharacteristic choices
- Forgetting how to carry out basic tasks, like dressing or bathing
- Personality changes
If youve noticed some of these behaviors in yourself or a loved one, schedule a visit with your doctor. These symptoms can reflect signs of early Alzheimers or signs of early dementia.
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Accurate Diagnosis Is Critical
An accurate diagnosis of young-onset Alzheimer’s is crucial. It’s important to rule out other potential possibly treatable causes of your symptoms and start appropriate treatment. Alzheimer’s disease can also have slightly different features in younger individuals, which can lead to misdiagnosis and delaying of appropriate treatment, resulting in negative effects on quality of life.
It’s also important for personal and professional reasons. For you and your family, the diagnosis is fundamental in helping your family respond with appropriate understanding and compassion. It can also give you and your family more time to make important decisions about financial and legal issues.
At work, it can allow you to explain your condition to your employer and perhaps arrange a lighter workload or more convenient schedule.
Taking Longer To Complete Basic Tasks
As most people get older, they tend to slow down a little bit, both physically and mentally. However, if you’re losing the ability to follow plans and having trouble concentrating, meaning things take considerably longer than they used to, that could be an indication an Alzheimer’s diagnosis isn’t far off.
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Putting Things In Strange Places
Everyone forgets where they put their keys every once in a while, and sometimes you’re so tired that you might accidentally put the milk in the cupboard. That’s totally normal! For those with Alzheimer’s, though, misplacing possessions and putting them in places that don’t make sense happens with startling frequency, according to the Mayo Clinic. And for more age-related health issues to be aware of, check out these 40 Things Doctors Say Affect Your Health After 40.
Stage : Moderate Dementia
Patients in stage 5 need some assistance in order to carry out their daily lives. The main sign for stage 5 dementia is the inability to remember major details such as the name of a close family member or a home address. Patients may become disoriented about the time and place, have trouble making decisions, and forget basic information about themselves, such as a telephone number or address.
While moderate dementia can interfere with basic functioning, patients at this stage do not need assistance with basic functions such as using the bathroom or eating. Patients also still have the ability to remember their own names and generally the names of spouses and children.
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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:
Forgetting Important Dates And Events
Forgetting certain thingslike what you ate for dinner last Thursdayis normal. When you start constantly forgetting important dates and events, however, that could be an early sign of Alzheimer’s, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Pay attention to how often little things slip your mindand if it starts to become a persistent problem, talk to a doctor about the possibility of dementia. And for more health problems that might arise in your golden years, check out these 40 Health Risks That Skyrocket After 40.
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Trouble With The Passage Of Time
Typically, time isn’t a real problem. Most people are able to tell the difference between a few minutes and a few hours. But one early sign of Alzheimer’s is when someone’s perception of time is affected.
“Five minutes can seem like five hours for someone with ,” Lisa P. Gwyther, MSW, LCSW, an associate professor at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University, told CBS News. “So a husband may think his wife has been gone for hours or even weeks, even if it’s just been a few minutes, or he might tell his grandchild that he hasn’t seen him in five years, even though he just saw him yesterday.”
Genetic Risk For Atypical Forms Of Alzheimers Disease
Comparatively little information exists regarding genetic risk for atypical forms of AD beyond that discussed above for APOE 4. However, one genome-wide association study for PCA risk identified significant association with the APOE locus but found a smaller odds ratio than is seen for typical AD , consistent with the studies cited above. Three additional loci in this study reached genome-wide significance and represent promising candidates for replication . Although lvPPA is most often associated with AD pathology , lvPPA due to non-AD pathology also occurs, and these cases are often associated with GRN variants .
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Literature Search And Characteristics Of Included Study
Finally, a total of 15 relevant articles seemed to fulfill the inclusion criteria after the application of search strategy, and the search strategy was presented in Figure 1. Among the 15 trials, two trials were from Zhang group and these two trials contained same amounts of EOAD and AD patients, hence we only included one in our meta-analysis. In addition, two studies performed by V. Chandra were conducted among the same cohort , we chose the one with higher quality in our meta-analysis . These included articles were published between 1985 and 2013. In addition, these included trials were all sporadic forms of EOAD. These included trials were conducted in Europe, America and Asia. Finally, our study included a total of 1,274 EOAD patients and 11,982 AD cases. Data details of the included studies are presented in Table 1.
Abbreviations: AD, Alzheimers disease ADAS-Cog, Alzheimers Disease Assessment Scale-cognitive subscale CDR-4, the Clinical Dementia Rating Scale DSM, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders EOAD, early onset Alzheimers Disease MMSE, Mini-Mental State Examination NA, not available NINCDS-ADRDA, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke-Alzheimer Diseases and Related Disorders Association Working Group criteria.
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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