How Is Alzheimers Disease Diagnosed
Talk to a doctor if you or a loved one is finding it increasingly difficult to perform day-to-day tasks, or if you or a loved one is experiencing increased memory loss. They may refer you to a doctor who specializes in AD.
Theyll conduct a medical exam and a neurological exam to aid in the diagnosis. They may also choose to complete an imaging test of your brain. They can only make a diagnosis after the medical evaluation is completed.
Theres no cure for AD at this time. The symptoms of AD can sometimes be treated with medications meant to help improve memory loss or decrease sleeping difficulties.
Research is still being done on possible alternative treatments.
Take Care Of Yourself
- Follow your doctors advice about diet and exercise. If you take medicine, be sure to take the right amount at the right time. Visit or talk with your doctor if you have questions about your health or treatment.
- Consider joining a support group. To find one near you, contact your local Alzheimers Association chapter.
‘what About The Kids’
When he was diagnosed at 36, doctors said he would die within five to seven years. More than a decade later he survives. “Younger people’s bodies are stronger,” says his wife, Karen.
But young-onset Alzheimer’s also progresses faster than the disease in older people. Mike was diagnosed in 2001. By 2004 he was unable to speak and by 2006 he was unable to walk.
An estimated 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s. Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, commonly known as young-onset Alzheimer’s disease, afflicts people under 65 and accounts for less than 10% of cases of the disease.
In the UK, the Alzheimer’s Society provides statistics on all forms of dementia, noting that Alzheimer’s accounts for the majority of these cases. They count 800,000 people with dementia in the UK, including more than 17,000 younger people.
It is a small proportion, but an extremely aggressive form of the disease. The impact on patients and families is typically severe.
Once diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, younger people have scant time to organise their future. They face a lot of legal work: coping with insurers, arranging for Social Security and power of attorney.
Mike’s first question, when he learned he had Alzheimer’s, was “What are we going to do about the kids?” At the time, Courtney was nine years old and Brandon eight.
At first Mike and Karen decided not to tell them anything, “but they were already questioning why he wasn’t working anymore”, recalls Karen.
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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.
Can Treatment Slow The Stages Of Vascular Dementia
While there’s no guaranteed treatment for vascular dementia, researchers suggest that taking good care of your heart and your brain may reduce the chance of, or slow, further progression. This includes maintaining a healthy blood pressure, exercising regularly, not smoking, and eating a healthy diet.
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Consider A Clinical Trial
Since patients with early-onset can live with the disease for a long time, it might make sense to explore the option of entering a clinical trial. According to the Alzheimers Association, funding is not the biggest challenge for clinical researchers. Instead, finding trial participants is! If you or a loved one might be willing to take part in a clinical research study, contact the Alzheimers Association at 272-3900 and press 1 to be connected with the clinical trials hotline.
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A doctor will perform a physical exam to evaluate your mental processes. He or she will also ask you about any medications youre currently taking and any stressful situations youre facing. Your memory loss provider may also ask you about your symptoms and ask you to take notes on how youre feeling. The doctor may recommend that you get an appointment with a neuropsychologist. A neuropsychologist can help you figure out the best way to treat your memory loss.
A doctor will conduct a physical exam to determine the exact cause of your memory loss. He or she will also ask you about your medical history and whether youve experienced other forms of memory loss. After your medical history, your provider will discuss your options for treatment. If youre experiencing severe symptoms of memory loss, you should seek out a professional. It will help you get the right kind of care for your specific situation. So, take action today.
A healthcare provider will perform a physical exam to assess the condition of your memory. He or she will ask you about your family and friends and any medications youre taking. Once he or she has established the root cause, a proper treatment will be given. If you have a mild form of memory loss, you can still function independently and perform everyday tasks. If your symptoms are more severe, you may need to see a medical professional.
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How Important Are The Stages Of Dementia
The stages of dementia are just a guide and there is nothing significant about the number three. Equally, dementia doesnt follow an exact or certain set of steps that happen in the same way for every person with dementia.
It can be difficult to tell when a persons dementia has progressed from one stage to another because:
- some symptoms may appear in a different order to the stages described in this factsheet, or not at all
- the stages may overlap the person may need help with some aspects of everyday life but manage other tasks and activities on their own
- some symptoms, particularly those linked to behaviours, may develop at one stage and then reduce or even disappear later on. Other symptoms, such as memory loss and problems with language and thinking, tend to stay and get worse with time.
It is natural to ask which stage a person is at or what might happen next. But it is more important to focus on the person in the present moment. This includes their needs and how they can live well, and how to help them with this.
For more support on living well with dementia see The dementia guide: living well after diagnosis or Caring for a person with dementia: a practical guide .
And for more information about treatment and support for the different types of dementia go to the following pages:
Risk Factors To Consider
Although AD isnt an expected part of advancing age, youre at increased risk as you get older. More than 32 percent of people over age 85 have Alzheimers.
You may also have an increased risk of developing AD if a parent, sibling, or child has the disease. If more than one family member has AD, your risk increases.
The exact cause of early onset AD hasnt been fully determined. Many researchers believe that this disease develops as the result of multiple factors rather than one specific cause.
Researchers have discovered rare genes that may directly cause or contribute to AD. These genes may be carried from one generation to the next within a family. Carrying this gene can result in adults younger than age 65 developing symptoms much earlier than expected.
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Stage : Mild Dementia
At this stage, individuals may start to become socially withdrawn and show changes in personality and mood. Denial of symptoms as a defense mechanism is commonly seen in stage 4. Behaviors to look for include:
- Difficulty remembering things about one’s personal history
- Difficulty recognizing faces and people
In stage 4 dementia, individuals have no trouble recognizing familiar faces or traveling to familiar locations. However, patients in this stage will often avoid challenging situations in order to hide symptoms or prevent stress or anxiety.
Duration Of Stages: How Long Do The Stage Of Alzheimers / Dementia Last
No two people with dementia experience the disease exactly the same way, and the rate of progression will vary by person and type of dementia. In addition, it is not uncommon for individuals to have mixed dementia, meaning they have more than one type. That said, there is a natural course of the disease, and over time the capabilities of all persons with dementia will worsen. Eventually, the ability to function goes away. Keep in mind that changes in the brain from dementia begin years before diagnosis, when there are no outward symptoms. This makes it difficult to know how much time a person has left, though there are ways to come close to knowing life expectancy.
|Life Expectancy by Dementia Type|
|2 to 8 years following pronounced symptoms|
Mild DementiaIn this early stage of dementia, an individual can function rather independently, and often is still able to drive and maintain a social life. Symptoms may be attributed to the normal process of aging. There might be slight lapses in memory, such as misplacing eyeglasses or having difficulty finding the right word. Other difficulties may include issues with planning, organizing, concentrating on tasks, or accomplishing tasks at work. This early stage of dementia, on average, lasts between 2 and 4 years.
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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.
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.
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Is Lewy Body Dementia Fatal
Lewy body dementia is a progressive disease with average survival after diagnosis of about eight years. The symptoms are similar to those found in Alzheimers, but unlike it they will get worse over time rather than better- eventually leading someone having LBD into nursing homes or even Hospices without any hope for recovery whatsoever
How Quickly Does Dementia Progress
The speed at which dementia progresses varies a lot from person to person because of factors such as:
- the type of dementia for example, Alzheimers disease tends to progress more slowly than the other types
- a persons age for example, Alzheimers disease generally progresses more slowly in older people than in younger people
- other long-term health problems dementia tends to progress more quickly if the person is living with other conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure, particularly if these are not well-managed
- delirium a medical condition that starts suddenly .
There is no way to be sure how quickly a persons dementia will progress. Some people with dementia will need support very soon after their diagnosis. In contrast, others will stay independent for several years.
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Common Types Of Dementia In Younger People
There are differences in the types of dementia commonly diagnosed in younger people with dementia compared to those of an older age.
- Alzheimers disease is the most common form of dementia in younger people, accounting for around a third of younger people with dementia, in comparison to about 60% in the older age group
- Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia in young people. Around 20% of younger people with dementia have vascular dementia
- Around 12% of younger people with dementia have frontotemporal dementia, compared with just 2% in older people. It most commonly occurs between the ages of 45-65. In about 40% of cases there is a family history of the condition
- Korsakoffs syndrome around 10% of dementias in younger people are caused by a lack of vitamin B1 , most commonly associated with alcohol abuse
What Changes Can I Expect
- The first signs of young-onset dementia can be similar to those of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, although the sequence in which signs appear varies from person to person. Typical signs include:
- Personality changes, such as abruptness and insensitivity
- Frequent lapses of memory, particularly involving recent memories
- Forgetting appointments or the names of colleagues at work
- Unsettling moments of disorientation in previously familiar places
- Being unable to find the way home
- Becoming confused about familiar tasks such as handling money or placing a call
- Difficulty finding the right words
- Difficulty with voluntary movements or physical coordination
- Struggling to learn new things and adapting to changes at home or at work
- Losing interest in activities that were enjoyed previously
- Withdrawing from social contact
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Ashford Assisted Living And Memory Care
The progression of dementia depends on many factors, but support is one of the most important. At Ashford Assisted Living and Memory Care , we take great pride in the high-level support we provide our residents with dementia. We ensure all of our residents receive the physical, mental, and emotional care they need to live as long as possible with their disease.
Contact us today for more information on how we can help your loved one who is suffering from dementia.
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.
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The Progression Of Dementia
Many types of dementia exist. They are all progressive.
As the disease progresses, the structure and chemistry of the brain become damaged. This leads to the following:
- Problems with short and long term memory
- Inability to clearly communicate
How fast these effects appear depends on the individual. Each dementia sufferer is unique. The disease progresses depending on factors that no two people share. For example, the rate of progression of dementia often relies upon:
- The physical make-up of the person
- The emotional resilience of the person
- Medication prescribed
- Medical conditions he has had over the years
- The support the person has around him
As dementia progresses, sufferers need more support, especially with daily living skills. Since behavior and mood changes with the later stages of the disease, many family members find it difficult to continue providing care.
The Various Causes Of Early
The Dutch study found that overall, Alzheimers disease was the most common cause of young-onset dementia. But when symptoms developed before age 50, early-onset Alzheimers was a less likely explanation than two other causes: vascular dementia and frontotemporal dementia.
Vascular dementia results from a blockage or injury to blood vessels in the brain that interfere with circulation and deprive the brain of oxygen and nutrients. Its most common symptoms, in addition to memory problems, are confusion, difficulty concentrating, trouble organizing thoughts or tasks, and slowed thinking.
In frontotemporal dementia, portions of the brain that lie behind the forehead and ears shrink, resulting in dramatic personality changes, socially inappropriate or impulsive behavior and emotional indifference. Movement and memory problems typically develop later in the course of the disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, frontotemporal dementia often begins between the ages of 40 and 65 and may be misdiagnosed as a psychiatric problem.
Alzheimers disease remains the most common cause of dementia in younger as well as older adults. There is an inherited form of Alzheimers that typically arises at younger ages, but those cases account for fewer than 10 percent of young-onset disease. Most cases of Alzheimers occur sporadically, for unknown reasons, though genetic factors may increase risk.
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