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Signs Of Dementia In 40s

Becoming Totally Uninterested In Everything

1 Early signs of dementia

One of the most common changes those with Alzheimer’s go through is no longer being interested in things they used to loveor no longer being interested in anything, for that matter. A 2001 study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society revealed that, while disinterest is a frequent symptom among those with Alzheimer’s, it’s also one of the most under-recognized signs. Researchers at the University of Exeter conducted a study in 2019, and they found that nearly half of all people with dementia experience apathy.

Signs And Symptoms Of Dementia

A long list of symptoms is associated with dementia, but many overlap with other health conditions, meaning that having some of them does not confirm that an individual is cognitively impaired.

That said, dont hesitate to consult a healthcare provider if you or a loved one is showing signs of dementia, which can be cognitive or psychological in nature:

  • Trouble remembering new information
  • Exhibiting signs of paranoia
  • Exercising poor judgment

Not everyone will notice these symptoms right away, and a checklist alone cant determine if a person has a dementia-related disorder. In fact, not even a test can do so.

Other Types Of Dementia

Other progressive forms of dementia include frontotemporal dementia, Lewy body dementia, and vascular dementiaand it’s also possible to have a combination of dementia types.

Frontotemporal Dementia

With frontotemporal dementia, nerve cells in the parts of the brain involved in behavior, communication, and personality begin to degenerate. Thus, people with this condition typically have symptoms that impact their behavior, reasoning, communication, and/or movement.

Lewy Body Dementia

In Lewy body dementia, wads of protein accumulate in the brain. These proteins can also be found in patients with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. People with this form of dementia might hallucinate, have trouble concentrating, or experience physical coordination and movement difficulties.

Vascular Dementia

Vascular dementia is second only to Alzheimer’s in its prevalence in people with dementia. It occurs due to problems with the blood vessels that involve the brain. While people with this form of dementia may have difficulty recalling, their most obvious symptoms are likely to be trouble with organization, reasoning, concentration, and thinking quickly.

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Making Plans For The Future

When a person learns that they have dementia, they will often begin planning for their future in formal ways, as well as making plans for holidays and family time. For a person who is working and has substantial financial commitments perhaps a mortgage, pension, life insurance and so on a diagnosis of dementia will mean a drastic change of circumstances. The advice of a financial adviser could help. A person can give a named individual the power to make specific decisions on their behalf if there comes a time when they are unable to make them themselves. This is known as a Lasting Power of Attorney. There are two types: one relates to property and affairs, the other to personal welfare . For more on this area, see the feature on Advance care planning.

The Truth About Aging And Dementia

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As we age, our brains change, but Alzheimers disease and related dementias are not an inevitable part of aging. In fact, up to 40% of dementia cases may be prevented or delayed. It helps to understand whats normal and whats not when it comes to brain health.

Normal brain aging may mean slower processing speeds and more trouble multitasking, but routine memory, skills, and knowledge are stable and may even improve with age. Its normal to occasionally forget recent events such as where you put your keys or the name of the person you just met.

In the United States, 6.2 million people age 65 and older have Alzheimers disease, the most common type of dementia. People with dementia have symptoms of cognitive decline that interfere with daily lifeincluding disruptions in language, memory, attention, recognition, problem solving, and decision-making. Signs to watch for include:

Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias are not an inevitable part of aging. There are 7 ways to help maintain your brain health.

  • Not being able to complete tasks without help.
  • Trouble naming items or close family members.
  • Forgetting the function of items.
  • Repeating questions.
  • Taking much longer to complete normal tasks.
  • Misplacing items often.
  • Being unable to retrace steps and getting lost.

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Dementia is known to affect some people as young as in their 40s. This is known as early-onset Alzheimers. What are the early warning symptoms to spot?

Vision problems are said to be the first warning symptom.

This can make judging distance, speed, or distances more difficult, and the affected person may have trouble with recognising objects.

Secondly, aphasia can develop this is when the person has difficulty finding the right words to communicate what they want to say.

Another symptom of early-onset Alzheimers is when there has been a shift in personality and behaviour.

These changes can be subtle at first, but people with the brain condition may become low in mood, irritable, less confident, and show less interest in activities they once loved.

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.

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Support At The Point Of Diagnosis

Someone in their 40s or 50s does not expect to become forgetful and confused and then be told they have a progressive terminal condition such as dementia. For many younger people with dementia and their families, this is a very traumatic time, when feelings of uncertainty, grief and loss are particularly acute. Watch SCIE Social Care TV video Young onset dementia: living at home with nursing support. In this video Jim talks about the painful process that eventually saw his wife, Jan, be diagnosed with young onset Alzheimers.

The person and their spouse may well need counselling or extra emotional support to cope with the diagnosis. Counselling is available on the NHS but a younger person with dementia would only be referred for this if they were showing signs of severe anxiety and/or depression, which they may well be. Some families may seek private counselling or perhaps more commonly turn to a charity like the Alzheimers Society for emotional support. The Alzheimers Societys factsheet 445 Talking therapies has more information on this.

There are a growing number of community-based services specifically for younger people with dementia, which provide emotional support. For more on this, see the feature, Services and support for younger people in this section.

Symptoms Specific To Frontotemporal Dementia

Dementia: The Causes

Although Alzheimer’s disease is still the most common type of dementia in people under 65, a higher percentage of people in this age group may develop frontotemporal dementia than older people. Most cases are diagnosed in people aged 45-65.

Early symptoms of frontotemporal dementia may include:

  • personality changes reduced sensitivity to others’ feelings, making people seem cold and unfeeling
  • lack of social awareness making inappropriate jokes or showing a lack of tact, though some people may become very withdrawn and apathetic
  • language problems difficulty finding the right words or understanding them
  • becoming obsessive such as developing fads for unusual foods, overeating and drinking

Read more about frontotemporal dementia.

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Building A New Life After Diagnosis

Despite the progressive and terminal nature of dementia, many people do find ways to cope with the diagnosis and get on with their lives.

Some people find a sense of purpose after diagnosis through joining with others to campaign for a better deal for people with dementia . Others prefer to carry on doing things they have always done such as gardening, going to the pub or fishing.

It is important that a younger person has the chance to try something new. Some might want to explore their creative side and become artists or singers. Others may want to try something more active and adventurous , visit a place they have never been, or take on a new role or responsibility . The point is to help the person find an activity that is meaningful for them and to assist them to do it.

Early Symptoms Of Dementia

Although the early signs vary, common early symptoms of dementia include:

  • memory problems, particularly remembering recent events
  • increasing confusion
  • apathy and withdrawal or depression
  • loss of ability to do everyday tasks.

Sometimes, people fail to recognise that these symptoms indicate that something is wrong. They may mistakenly assume that such behaviour is a normal part of the ageing process. Symptoms may also develop gradually and go unnoticed for a long time. Also, some people may refuse to act, even when they know something is wrong.

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Failing To Pick Up On Sarcasm And Spot A Liar

You may or may not appreciate a sarcastic sense of humor, but sarcasm is a part of our culture. “We see it as a nice way to be critical, and so we use it constantly, even when we are trying to be nice,” says Rankin, whose research found that people with both frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer’s disease tend to have a harder time picking up on sarcasm.

Another unusual sign of dementia that Rankin noticed? People with FTD couldn’t tell when someone was lying, although people with Alzheimer’s disease could tell. “FTD patients don’t have that sense anymore that things that people do could turn out badly,” she says.

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Dementia caused by Parkinson

If youre experiencing memory loss, you should go to a doctor. Your doctor will perform a physical exam and ask about your symptoms. He or she will also ask you about your medication and any stress youre experiencing. After the exam, he or she will likely ask you to make an appointment with a neuropsychologist. If youre unable to recall the details of your doctor, you may want to consult another healthcare provider.

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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

Staring With Reduced Gaze And Trouble Reading

Reduced gaze is the clinical term for the dementia symptom that alters peoples ability to move their eyes normally. We all move our eyes and track with them frequently, says Rankin. But people showing early signs of dementia look like theyre staring a lot. Rankin adds that they might skip lines when they try to read. This is one of the signs of dementia that the person with dementia might not completely be aware of, although people around them probably will be.

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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.

Symptoms Specific To Vascular Dementia

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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.

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Young Husband And Wife Speak About Pain Of Early Onset Dementia

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The Alzheimer’s Research UK charity warned that symptoms of dementia can be “difficult for people, families and doctors to recognise”. When abnormal proteins start to disrupt the normal functioning of the brain, what do you look out for? Firstly, the person experiencing dementia may encounter “visual problems”. This can make judging distance, speed, or distances more difficult, and the affected person may have trouble with recognising objects.

What To Do If You Notice The Signs Of Dementia

If youre worried about any dementia-like symptoms its always best to speak to a healthcare professional as soon as possible. Your GP will be able to offer reassurance and help you get an accurate diagnosis based on what youre experiencing.

If your GP does suspect dementia, they may look at your family history and existing medical conditions, before referring you to a specialist for a medical assessment. They may want to do some blood tests too.

A diagnosis of dementia can be difficult to process, however theres no reason why you can still have a good quality of life. The earlier you seek help, the more treatment options there will be available to you.

Drugs like donepezil, rivastigmine and galantamine may help the cells in your brain to communicate better helping to make daily tasks easier and potentially, slowing the progression of symptoms.

There are also a number of treatments and therapies that are completely drug free that some people find effective. Things such as aromatherapy and massage may alleviate some symptoms such as sleep problems.

Of course, living a healthy lifestyle can help with symptom management too. Regular physical activity such as walking and aerobics, and hobbies that keep the mind active like crossword puzzles may help slow down the progression of dementia symptoms.

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You’ve Been Getting Easily Confused

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.

Having A Hard Time Managing Money

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One of the classic early signs of Alzheimers disease is an increasing difficulty with money management. This might start off as having trouble balancing a checkbook or keeping up with expenses or bills, but as the disease progresses, poor financial decisions are often made across the board.

Though many people brush off this symptom as a normal part of aging, they shouldnt. We tend to associate aging with losing your mind. Thats not healthy aging its a disease, emphasizes Rankin.

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Disregarding The Law And Other Social Norms

Some people with dementia lose their sense of social norms. Shoplifting, breaking into someones house, inappropriate interpersonal behaviors such as sexual comments or actions, and even criminal behavior, according to a review published in October 2020 in the journal Cortex, all make the list of surprising dementia symptoms.

This could lead to trouble with the law, too: Early-onset dementia can hit people as early as their thirties and forties, well before anyone around them would consider their out-of-character behavior a sign of dementia.

But, says Rankin, Obviously, the majority of people engaging in those behaviors dont have dementia. Its only when a previously law-abiding citizen starts to steal or do other things that are out of character that it becomes a concern for dementia.

Common Early Symptoms Of Dementia

Different types of dementia can affect people differently, and everyone will experience symptoms in their own way.

However, there are some common early symptoms that may appear some time before a diagnosis of dementia. These include:

  • memory loss
  • difficulty concentrating
  • finding it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks, such as getting confused over the correct change when shopping
  • struggling to follow a conversation or find the right word
  • being confused about time and place
  • mood changes

These symptoms are often mild and may get worse only very gradually. It’s often termed “mild cognitive impairment” as the symptoms are not severe enough to be diagnosed as dementia.

You might not notice these symptoms if you have them, and family and friends may not notice or take them seriously for some time. In some people, these symptoms will remain the same and not worsen. But some people with MCI will go on to develop dementia.

Dementia is not a natural part of ageing. This is why it’s important to talk to a GP sooner rather than later if you’re worried about memory problems or other symptoms.

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