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.
Dementia In Younger People
People whose symptoms started when they were under the age of 65 are often known as younger people with dementia or as having young-onset dementia. This is not for a biological reason, but is based on the fact that 65 was the usual age of retirement for many people.People sometimes use the terms early-onset dementia or working-age dementia. This information uses the term young-onset dementia.
Dementia is caused by a wide range of different diseases. This is similar for younger and older people , but there are important differences in how dementia affects younger people. These include the following:
- A wider range of diseases cause young-onset dementia.
- A younger person is much more likely to have a rarer form of dementia.
- Younger people with dementia are less likely to have memory loss as one of their first symptoms.
- Young-onset dementia is more likely to cause problems with movement, walking, co-ordination or balance.
- Young-onset dementia is more likely to be inherited this affects up to 10% of younger people with dementia.
- Many younger people with dementia dont have any other serious or long-term health conditions.
Heart Helpline & Other Support:
- Call our Heart Helpline on 0300 330 3311 between Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
- Speak to others with heart and circulatory disease by joining a support group or online community.
- Sign up to our Heart Matters magazine and online information packed with health and lifestyle advice.
- Get advice from the Alzheimer’s Society and access their personalised support service Dementia Connect
- Speak to an Admiral Nurse through Dementia UK’s helpline. The number to call is 0800 888 6678.
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Do Treatments Add Time To Life Expectancy
Experts simply dont know whether treatments help a person live longer with Alzheimers disease. AD and other similar dementias progress no matter what. Treatments like medications and therapies have been conclusively shown to help manage symptoms, meaning they make it easier to live with the disease, but they do not reverse symptoms. The memory of a person with dementia who takes medications like cholinesterase inhibitors, for example, will be slightly better than the memory of someone who is not on medication. Quality of life therefore improves with treatment. This means better years with dementia, but probably not more years.
What Causes Dementia To Progress So Quickly
Dementia symptoms are typically mild at first and progress over time to moderate and then severe, over several years. The speed as which dementia progresses varies between individuals, but some factors can cause dementia to progress more quickly. These include the persons age, the type of dementia, and other long term health problems. Dementia tends to progress more slowly in people over 65 compared to younger people below 65.
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Memory Loss That Disrupts Daily Life
Forgetting recent events is a very common sign in most types of dementia, especially in the early stages.
Other signs someone might have dementia include:
- they forget important dates
- they repeat what they say
- they rely increasingly on reminder notes or electronic devices as memory aids
- they rely often on family members for things they were able handle on their own
What Are The Causes Of Young
The causes of young-onset dementia are similar to the diseases that usually cause dementia in older people. However, some causes, such as frontotemporal dementia , are more common in younger people. Dementia in younger people often has different symptoms, even when its caused by the same diseases as in older people.There is more information about some common causes of dementia, and how they can affect younger people, below.
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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.
What Is Dementia Symptoms Types And Diagnosis
Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning thinking, remembering, and reasoning to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. Some people with dementia cannot control their emotions, and their personalities may change. Dementia ranges in severity from the mildest stage, when it is just beginning to affect a person’s functioning, to the most severe stage, when the person must depend completely on others for basic activities of living.
Dementia is more common as people grow older but it is not a normal part of aging. Many people live into their 90s and beyond without any signs of dementia.
There are several different forms of dementia, including Alzheimers disease. A persons symptoms can vary depending on the type.
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Future Directions In Diagnosis Research
Considerable research effort is being put into the development of better tools for accurate and early diagnosis. Research continues to provide new insights that in the future may promote early detection and improved diagnosis of dementia, including:
- Better dementia assessment tests that are suitable for people from diverse educational, social, linguistic and cultural backgrounds.
- New computerised cognitive assessment tests which can improve the delivery of the test and simplify responses.
- Improved screening tools to allow dementia to be more effectively identified and diagnosed by GPs.
- The development of blood and spinal fluid tests to measure Alzheimers related protein levels and determine the risk of Alzheimers disease.
- The use of sophisticated brain imaging techniques and newly developed dyes to directly view abnormal Alzheimers protein deposits in the brain, yielding specific tests for Alzheimers disease.
Problems With Words In Speaking Or Writing
Someone with a dementia might find it difficult to follow or join a conversation.They might:
- stop speaking in the middle of a conversation
- find it difficult to continue a conversation
- repeat what they say
They may struggle to find the right word or call things by the wrong name, for example describing a watch as a hand-clock.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Dementia
Early symptoms of dementia include :
- Forgetting recent events or information
- Repeating comments or questions over a very short period of time
- Misplacing commonly used items or placing them in usual spots
- Not knowing the date or time
- Having difficulty coming up with the right words
- Experiencing a change in mood, behavior or interests
Signs that dementia is getting worse include:
- Ability to remember and make decisions further declines
- Talking and finding the right words becomes more difficult
- Daily complex tasks, such as brushing teeth, making a cup of coffee, working a tv remote, cooking, and paying bills become more challenging
- Rational thinking and behavior and ability to problem solve lessen
- Sleeping pattern change
- Anxiety, frustration, confusion, agitation, suspiciousness, sadness and/or depression increase
- More help with activities of daily living grooming, toileting, bathing, eating is needed
- Hallucinations may develop
The symptoms mentioned above are general symptoms of dementia. Each person diagnosed with dementia has different symptoms, depending on what area of the brain is damaged. Additional symptoms and/or unique symptoms occur with specific types of dementia.
Disproportionate Impact On Women
Globally, dementia has a disproportionate impact on women. Sixty-five percent of total deaths due to dementia are women, and disability-adjusted life years due to dementia are roughly 60% higher in women than in men. Additionally, women provide the majority of informal care for people living with dementia, accounting for 70% of carer hours.
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What Can I Do To Reduce My Risk Of Dementia
Those that follow a healthier lifestyle have been shown to have a lower risk of dementia. Doing what you can to protect your heart, as well as staying active, can be beneficial. Therefore, it’s best to aim to:
- eat a varied diet containing lots of fruit and vegetables
- eat less salty and fatty foods, especially those high in saturated fat
- drink alcohol in moderation
- enjoy an active life with plenty of outside interests
- ask your doctor to check your blood pressure and cholesterol
- keep your blood glucose well controlled if you have diabetes.
Finding A Huge Gap In Services And Supports For Younger People
âI unfortunately ran into that brick wall where I was ineligible for just about everything because of my age.â â Faye.
Most social programs and services are designed for older people with dementia. In comparison, the number of programs designed for people living with young onset dementia is sparse.
People living with young onset dementia may not find the programs intended for older adults interesting or beneficial in respect to their needs. They may not feel comfortable in a seniorsâ program. And even if they were interested and comfortable in joining a program, they might be ineligible because of their age!
We have a gap in our knowledge about young onset dementia. As a result, there simply aren’t enough information, support, financial aid and services adapted for younger people living with dementia.
However, this is changing. The Young Onset Gap Analysis Project, initiated through the National Information Support and Education Committee and the Alzheimer Society of Canada , explored the gaps of available learning and support resources for people living with young onset dementia, and sought advice and feedback from those with lived experience.
The information from this report is being used to develop new resources dedicated to education and support for people living with young onset dementia, families, caregivers and healthcare providers.
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What To Do If A Loved One Is Suspicious Of Having Dementia
- Discuss with loved one. Talk about seeing a medical provider about the observed changes soon. Talk about the issue of driving and always carrying an ID.
- Medical assessment. Be with a provider that you are comfortable with. Ask about the Medicare Annual Wellness exam.
- Family Meeting. Start planning, and gather documents like the Health Care Directive, Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, Estate Plan.
What Is Mixed Dementia
It is common for people with dementia to have more than one form of dementia. For example, many people with dementia have both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.
Researchers who have conducted autopsy studies have looked at the brains of people who had dementia, and have suggested that most people age 80 and older probably have mixed dementia caused by a combination of brain changes related to Alzheimer’s disease,vascular disease-related processes, or another condition that involves the loss of nerve cell function or structure and nerve cell death .
Scientists are investigating how the underlying disease processes in mixed dementia start and influence each other. Further knowledge gains in this area will help researchers better understand these conditions and develop more personalized prevention and treatment strategies.
Other conditions that cause dementia-like symptoms can be halted or even reversed with treatment. For example, normal pressure hydrocephalus, an abnormal buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain, often resolves with treatment.
Researchers have also identified many other conditions that can cause dementia or dementia-like symptoms. These conditions include:
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How Does A Doctor Test For Dementia
There is no single diagnostic test for Alzheimers disease and other causes of dementia. Dementias are diagnosed by evaluating and understanding a persons memory and thinking patterns. Doctors will consider a persons memory, grasp of language, mood states, problem-solving skills, ability to maintain focus and perform complex tasks. Evaluation may include in-office cognitive screening , physical examination, and review of labs. Labwork helps to determine whether there are vitamin deficiencies or hormonal changes at play. In some cases, evaluation may require neuropsychological testing, brain imaging , and genetic testing.
What Is Young Onset Dementia
Dementia is a degeneration of the brain that causes a progressive decline in peoples ability to think, reason, communicate and remember. Their personality, behaviour and mood can also be affected. Everyones experience of dementia is unique and the progression of the condition varies. Some symptoms are more likely to occur with certain types of dementia.
Dementia is described as young onset when symptoms develop before the age of 65, usually between 30 to 65 years of age. It is also referred to as early onset or working age dementia, but these terms can cause confusion. Early onset can be interpreted as the early stages of dementia and working age is now less defined as retirement age is more flexible.
As dementia is frequently, and wrongly, thought of as a condition that is just associated with old age, the early symptoms of young onset dementia are not always recognised and may be attributed to other causes including depression, stress, menopause, physical health problems and relationship issues. This can lead to a significant delay in getting an accurate diagnosis and access to appropriate support. This can have a negative impact on not just the person with dementias life but also the whole family.
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What Is Dementia And What Are The Symptoms
Dementia is the term for a group of symptoms that occur when the brain is damaged by diseases. This includes Alzheimer’s disease or diseases of the blood vessels that can cause a stroke. These diseases can cause a significant decline in a person’s mental abilities or ‘cognitive function’ – our capacity for things like memory, thinking and reasoning.
For a doctor to diagnose dementia, a person’s symptoms must have become bad enough to significantly affect their daily life, not just be an occasional minor irritation. This means having new problems with everyday activities about the house, in the community or at work. For example, starting to have problems paying household bills, using the phone, managing medicines, driving safely or meeting up with friends.
If a person has symptoms that are worse than would normally be expected for a healthy person their age, but are not severe enough to significantly affect their daily life, a doctor may diagnose mild cognitive impairment . This is not a type of dementia, though some people who have MCI will go on to develop dementia.
What Causes Vascular Dementia
Vascular dementia is caused by a lack of blood supply to your brain. This causes the surrounding cells to die. The causes of a reduced blood supply to your brain include:
small vessel disease narrowing of small blood vessels deep inside your brain
a stroke where the blood supply to part of your brain is suddenly cut off, due to a blood clot or haemorrhage
mini-strokes known as transient ischaemic attacks . These can cause tiny but widespread damage over time.
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Why Knowing Life Expectancy Is Useful
Knowing what to expect, including life expectancy helps with planning. Someone predicted to survive for five or six years, as opposed to two years, will want to make more extensive plans, including getting an estate in order, activity planning, and budget. Knowing how quickly the disease is expected to progress symptomatically can impact care decisions. If the disease is predicted to come on very quickly, for example, then skipping traditional assisted living and looking into memory care or a nursing home might be the best option.
Knowing when full-time care becomes a requirement, either at-home or in a memory care residence, is especially useful given the high cost of care. It is estimated that 50% of nursing home residents have some level of dementia and over 60% of nursing home residents care is paid for by Medicaid. Medicaid eligibility is complicated, and families can spend up to 5 years waiting for a loved one with dementia to become Medicaid-eligible. Therefore, knowing how soon care is required can make a huge financial difference.
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Symptoms Specific To Frontotemporal Dementia
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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Stem Cells And Dementia
Stem cells are “building block” cells. They can develop into many different cell types, including brain cells.
Two main avenues of research into the use of stem cells in dementia are being explored.
First, stem cells can be manipulated so they mimic some of the body’s processes that may cause the development of dementia. Doing this will help scientists to better understand dementia. It also allows researchers to predict the effects of potential dementia drugs more accurately.
Second, researchers hope that one day, stem cells could be used to develop new brain cells to replace the cells that are damaged by dementia.
What Diagnosis Falls Under Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimers disease is a diagnosis in itself. When it is noticeable clinically and identified early on, the formal diagnosis may be Mild Cognitive Impairment due to Alzheimers disease which may later develop into a diagnosis of dementia due to Alzheimers disease.
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