Stage : Normal Outward Behavior
Alzheimerâs disease usually starts silently, with brain changes that begin years before anyone notices a problem. When your loved one is in this early phase, they won’t have any symptoms that you can spot. Only a PET scan, an imaging test that shows how the brain is working, can reveal whether they have Alzheimer’s.
As they move into the next six stages, your friend or relative with Alzheimer’s will see more and more changes in their thinking and reasoning.
Other Forms Of Dementia Common In Younger People
Younger people are more susceptible to other, more unusual forms of dementia . Some examples are fronto-temporal dementia , Korsakoffs syndrome and HIV-related dementia.
Each form of dementia has characteristic symptoms, as well as more general symptoms of dementia. For example, fronto-temporal dementia affects the frontal lobe and/or the temporal parts of the brain, which deal with behaviour, emotional responses and language skills. If this part of the brain is damaged, a person may start to display inappropriate, disinhibited behaviour, such as swearing loudly and often. People with Lewy body dementia may experience visual hallucinations, irregular sleep patterns and falls. If care staff know this sort of information, they are far better equipped to respond to the particular needs of the individuals they are working with.
Dementia can be more severe in a younger person and is often associated with physical symptoms and rapid progression. This is particularly the case with rare forms of dementia such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and HIV-related dementia.
To find out more about these and other forms of dementia go to the Alzheimers Society website and see its factsheet on Younger people with dementia.
Forgetfulness And Memory Loss
While forgetting where you placed your car keys may commonly occur with anyone at any age, and perhaps a bit more as you age, persistent forgetfulness or lapses in memory is typically a sign that something is wrong. For people with early onset Alzheimers, they may begin noticing abnormal and chronic lapses in memory as early as their 30s or 40s.
If youre missing where you are and how you got there, struggling to find the right words when conversing or consistently forgetting what your partner asked you to do, yet you feel as if youre too young to be experiencing these things, you may be developing some signs of early memory decline.
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How Common Is Dementia In Adults Under 65
Dementia can affect people as young as 30, although this is extremely rare. Most younger people with dementia are middle aged: in their 50s and early 60s. The term young onset dementia, or ‘early onset dementia’, or ‘working life dementia’ refers to people diagnosed with dementia under the age of 65.
You cant have dementia, youre too young.
A GP quoted in an Alzheimers Society report
In 2010 there were thought to be 64,037 people under 65 with dementia in the UK compared with just 16,737 in 1998. The majority of those affected in this younger age group 70 per cent are men. Younger people with dementia make up 8 per cent of the total number of people with dementia .
The chances of developing dementia before 65 are relatively small. Men aged between 30 and 59 have a 0.16 per cent chance for women it is 0.09 per cent. The chances increase slightly once a person reaches 60. Men aged between 60 and 64 have a 1.58 per cent chance of developing dementia for women it is 0.47 per cent. The chances of developing dementia are highest for people between 90 and 94 .
Pillar #: Vascular Health
Theres more and more evidence to indicate that whats good for your heart is also good for your brain. Maintaining your cardiovascular health can be crucial in protecting your brain and lowering your risk for different types of dementia, including Alzheimers disease and vascular dementia. And of course, addressing heart-health issues can also help you to lower your risk for a future heart attack or stroke.
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Pillar #: Regular Exercise
According to the Alzheimers Research and Prevention Foundation, regular physical exercise can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimers disease by up to 50 percent. Whats more, exercise can also slow further deterioration in those who have already started to develop cognitive problems. Exercise protects against Alzheimers and other types of dementia by stimulating the brains ability to maintain old connections as well as make new ones.
Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week. The ideal plan involves a combination of cardio exercise and strength training. Good activities for beginners include walking and swimming.
Build muscle to pump up your brain. Moderate levels of weight and resistance training not only increase muscle mass, they help you maintain brain health. For those over 65, adding 2-3 strength sessions to your weekly routine may cut your risk of Alzheimers in half.
Include balance and coordination exercises. Head injuries from falls are an increasing risk as you age, which in turn increase your risk for Alzheimers disease and dementia. As well as protecting your head when you exercise , balance and coordination exercises can help you stay agile and avoid spills. Try yoga, Tai Chi, or exercises using balance balls.
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.
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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.
Tips For Starting And Sticking With An Exercise Plan
If youve been inactive for a while, starting an exercise program can be intimidating. But remember: a little exercise is better than none. In fact, adding just modest amounts of physical activity to your weekly routine can have a profound effect on your health.
Choose activities you enjoy and start smalla 10-minute walk a few times a day, for exampleand allow yourself to gradually build up your momentum and self-confidence.
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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.
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.
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Memory Loss That Impedes Daily Activities
The most noticeable symptom of Alzheimers disease is often memory loss. A person may start forgetting messages or recent events in a way that is unusual for them. They may repeat questions, having forgotten either the answer or the fact that they already asked.
It is not uncommon for people to forget things as they get older, but with early onset Alzheimers disease, this happens earlier in life, occurs more often, and seems out of character.
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.
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How Do I Treat Early
Keep your body in good shape, too. Make sure you eat healthy food and get regular exercise.
These medicines can delay or improve your symptoms for a few months to a few years. They may give you more time to live independently.
Stage : Moderately Severe Decline
Your loved one might start to lose track of where they are and what time it is. They might have trouble remembering their address, phone number, or where they went to school. They could get confused about what kind of clothes to wear for the day or season.
You can help by laying out their clothing in the morning. It can help them dress by themselves and keep a sense of independence.
If they repeat the same question, answer with an even, reassuring voice. They might be asking the question less to get an answer and more to just know you’re there.
Even if your loved one can’t remember facts and details, they might still be able to tell a story. Invite them to use their imagination at those times.
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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 To Do If You Suspect Alzheimers Disease
Getting checked by your healthcare provider can help determine if the symptoms you are experiencing are related to Alzheimers disease, or a more treatable conditions such as a vitamin deficiency or a side effect from medication. Early and accurate diagnosis also provides opportunities for you and your family to consider financial planning, develop advance directives, enroll in clinical trials, and anticipate care needs.
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A Crushing Diagnosis: Early
We went to Kens primary care doctor. He suggested maybe it was depression, but Ken didnt feel depressed. The doctor put him on antidepressants anyway. The symptoms didnt go away. After seven or eight months, I thought, this is getting ridiculous. Thats when we went to see the neurologist who tested Ken and concluded he had early-onset Alzheimers a week before his 30th birthday.
At first, I thought the doctor was joking. I didnt know people could get Alzheimers so young. But the follow-up PET and CT scans confirmed the diagnosis. We were then told we had just 7 to 10 good years left with Ken. That was six years ago.
I didnt know a whole lot about Alzheimers. No one in either of our families had ever had it. I was working in hospice as a business coordinator at the time and there were people on my roster who had the disease, but they were old people.
What Ive learned is that Alzheimers disease is a type of dementia that destroys memory and mental function over time and causes changes in personality and behavior as I saw in Ken. Certain medications and treatments may help manage symptoms like memory loss, but there is no cure. If you get diagnosed when youre younger than 65, like Ken, its called early-onset Alzheimers. My husband is one of about 200,000 Americans who have this form of Alzheimer’s.
Who Has Alzheimers Disease
- In 2020, as many as 5.8 million Americans were living with Alzheimers disease.1
- Younger people may get Alzheimers disease, but it is less common.
- The number of people living with the disease doubles every 5 years beyond age 65.
- This number is projected to nearly triple to 14 million people by 2060.1
- Symptoms of the disease can first appear after age 60, and the risk increases with age.
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Stage : Very Severe Decline
Many basic abilities in a person with Alzheimer’s, such as eating, walking, and sitting up, fade during this period. You can stay involved by feeding your loved one with soft, easy-to-swallow food, helping them use a spoon, and making sure they drink. This is important, as many people at this stage can no longer tell when they’re thirsty.
In this stage, people with Alzheimer’s disease need a lot of help from caregivers. Many families find that, as much as they may want to, they can no longer take care of their loved one at home. If thatâs you, look into facilities such as nursing homes that provide professional care day and night.
When someone nears the end of their life, hospice may be a good option. That doesn’t necessarily mean moving them to another location. Hospice care can happen anywhere. Itâs a team approach that focuses on comfort, pain management and other medical needs, emotional concerns, and spiritual support for the person and their family.
What Is The Difference Between Alzheimer’s And Dementia
First, some explanation of dementia vs. Alzheimer’s. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability that interferes with daily life. Not a normal part of aging, most dementias are typically caused by damaged brain cells.
Of all the dementias, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common, accounting for 60-80% of the cases. In other words, it is a specific disease while “dementia” is a general term for a life-altering decline in brain function .
Will I Get Alzheimer’s
After hearing all this information, the question we’ve probably all asked ourselves remains: will I get Alzheimer’s?
The simple answer is that, unfortunately, there’s no real way to tell. There are a number of risk factors that can increase your chances of developing the condition, but it is very rare that these factors will guarantee that you will get Alzheimer’s at some point.
Much more research is needed into the causes and risk factors associated with Alzheimer’s disease, but the good news is that this research is going on right now. The Jackson Laboratory is one such institution leading the charge with cutting edge discoveries, a strong focus on personalized medicine, and our renowned JAX Center for Dementia and Alzheimer’s Research.
Another institution internationally known for its research and charity is the Alzheimer’s Association. If you are concerned about signs or symptoms of dementia in yourself or a loved one, we recommend turning first to the Alzheimers Association Help & Support page. This page includes a many helpful articles, ways to connect with local support groups, and a 24/7 hotline for any Alzheimers and dementia related questions.