Supporting Someone With Early
The first step in offering support to a relative with Early-Onset Alzheimers is to get an accurate diagnosis as early as possible. A proper diagnosis will help your loved one in numerous ways. For one thing,it can rule out other possible causes. Just as important, the diagnosis paves the way for the right sort of treatment.In addition, the diagnosis enables you and other family members to provide the right kind of compassion and support. Plus, the earlier the diagnosis is reached, the more time you will have to address not only health-related issues, but legal, financial and personal ones as well.
If your loved one is still in the workplace, you can help them cope with how they will handle their job. People dealing with early-onset Alzheimers may also have to cope with the judgments of their employer as well as their co-workers. They may need to switch jobs or face the prospect of an early retirement and may need to learn how to live with fewer financial resources.Youll want to become familiar with your relatives benefits, including any employer-sponsored assistance programs. Also look into the American with Disabilities Act along with other government options like COBRA or the Family and Medical Leave Act.You may also need to think beyond the needs of your loved one. For example, their spouse or partners life might transition to a caretaking role.
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.
Be Open With Family And Friends
- Talk to your spouse and/or other close family members about your thoughts, fears, and wishes. Your family can help you plan for the future, including decisions about health care and legal and financial issues.
- Talk openly with children about your disease. Understand that they may be feeling concerned, confused, upset, or afraid. If appropriate, involve your children in discussions and decisions that affect the whole family.
- Your friends or neighbors might not know how to react to your diagnosis. They may feel like they dont know what to say or how to help, and may be waiting for you to make the first move. Invite friends to spend time with you. And dont be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
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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.
People Diagnosed Before Age 65 Present Unique Care Challenges
Fewer Canadians are diagnosed with dementia before age 65 than as seniors but their needs can be just as great.
Young-onset dementia is diagnosed before age 65 and tends to be unique in many ways. Early-onset forms of adult neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimers, vascular and frontotemporal dementia are some of the most common causes of dementia in those younger than 65. At the time of diagnosis, people with young-onset dementia may still be working, taking care of their children and parents, and meeting financial commitments . Of all Canadians with dementia, the proportion younger than 65 is approximately 3%. Among the 2,481 patients younger than 65 hospitalized with dementia, 54% were male.
People with young-onset dementia tend to stay longer in hospital, and a higher proportion of them have extremely long hospital stays. This may be due to difficulties in finding age-appropriate services for younger patients. In addition, people with young-onset dementia tend to be physically fit, so finding appropriate home supports may take time.
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What Happens After A Diagnosis Of Younger Onset Dementia
A diagnosis of younger onset dementia can come as a shock. The person affected, and their family and friends may all feel angry or sad. They might not believe it. There can be a huge sense of loss. These feelings are normal.
But help and support is available, and it is better to get it earlier than later.
Younger people with dementia need to think about several issues.
Mood Or Personality Changes
Someone with Alzheimers disease may start to experience a low mood. They may feel irritable, confused, anxious, or depressed. They may also lose interest in things they used to enjoy.
They may become frustrated with their symptoms or feel unable to understand the changes taking place. This may present as aggression or irritability toward others.
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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.
What Are The Risk Factors
Doctors dont understand why the disease can strike so early.
A few hundred families around the world have rare genes that directly cause Alzheimers, affecting many family members in multiple generations, including younger people, according to the Alzheimers Association.
But most of the time, genetics dont seem to play a role in early-onset cases even though family history does increase risk when it comes to the late-onset variety.
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Considering Genetic Testing For Late
Having the APOE4 gene doesnt affect treatment or disease course at all, its just a genetic marker for risk. If you have been tested already and have been found to have APOE4, talk with your doctor about possibly participating in a research study or clinical trial, to assist researchers in finding out more about this gene, brain changes associated with the gene, and treatment effectiveness.
Many people with late-onset Alzheimers disease may not even know they have the APOE4 gene, since there are other ways of diagnosing the disease and late-onset is the norm for diagnosis. If you have late-onset Alzheimers disease and have a family history of Alzheimers, you might want to talk with your doctor about the possibility of a genetic risk component, and whether genetic testing would be useful or not. It wouldnt change treatment or the disease itself, so its worth thinking about and discussing it with your treatment team. At its heart, its important to realize that the APOE4 gene is merely another risk factor, not a potential cause.
Living With Early Onset Alzheimers Disease
When younger people reach a stage that requires extra care, this may create the impression that the disease has moved faster. But people with early onset Alzheimers do not progress faster through the phases. It progresses over the course of several years in younger people as it does in adults older than 65.
But its important to plan ahead after receiving a diagnosis. Early onset Alzheimers can impact your financial and legal plans.
Examples of some steps that can help include:
- seeking out a support group for those with Alzheimers
- leaning on friends and family for support
- discussing your role, and disability insurance coverage, with your employer
- going over health insurance to ensure certain medications and treatments are covered
- having disability insurance papers in order before the symptoms appear
- engaging in financial planning for the future if a persons health changes suddenly
Dont be afraid to seek help from others during these steps. Getting personal affairs in order can provide peace of mind as you navigate your next steps.
Theres currently no cure for Alzheimers disease. But there are ways to medically manage the condition and live as healthy a life as possible. Examples of ways you can stay well with early onset Alzheimers disease include:
Researchers are learning more about the disease every day.
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How To Avoid Late
While there is no cure for Alzheimers, there are ways to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and promote healthy longevity. Its all about living a brain-healthy lifestyle.
Every case of Alzheimers is different and unique, so its difficult to generalize. Research does show there is a strong relationship between cardiovascular health and cognitive health. Experts believe that an active lifestyle, a healthy diet, and social interaction can keep an aging brain healthy. A healthy lifestyle may even stave off late-onset Alzheimers. At the very least, it can help mitigate Alzheimers symptoms and help slow down the progression.
If you feel you are at risk for late-onset Alzheimers, take a close look at your diet. A nutritional diet should be rich in fruit, vegetables, fish, healthy fats and whole grains. When possible, try to avoid sugar since increased sugar consumption has been linked to dementia risks. Walking for even 30 minutes a day can make a big difference. Some research indicates that cognitive stimulation as part of a holistic brain-healthy lifestyle can also help. Playing cards, doing crossword puzzles or word games can keep your mind sharp, as can social interaction. Keep your body and your mind active.
The old adage still rings true: a healthy body equals a healthy mind.
How Alzheimer’s Disease Is Treated
There’s currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but medicines are available that can help relieve some of the symptoms.
Various other types of support are also available to help people with Alzheimer’s live as independently as possible, such as making changes to your home environment so it’s easier to move around and remember daily tasks.
Psychological treatments such as cognitive stimulation therapy may also be offered to help support your memory, problem solving skills and language ability.
Read more about treating Alzheimer’s disease.
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Vascular Dementia With Early Onset
Cerebrovascular disorders are age-related processes. Therefore, VaD, or vascular cognitive impairment, usually occurs patients of senile age and less frequently in patients of presenile age. Clinically, executive functions are usually impaired in the early stage of the illness. Conversely, disturbance of short-term memory sometimes is not evident until an advanced stage of the disease. Pathologically, diffuse cerebral changes caused by vascular disorders, such as multiple infarctions and white matter degeneration of Binswanger type, are characteristic findings of VaD. The pathological and clinical features of VaD with an early onset essentially do not differ from those of VaD with a later onset.
However, genetic abnormalities facilitate the onset of cerebrovascular disorders, which cause VaD. Hereditary VaD occurs in middle age or in patients of presenile age. Occasionally, cases of Binswanger disease with early onset are due to hereditary disorders with genetic abnormalities of Notch3, namely cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoenceopathy. This disorder is characterized by onset in middle age, autosomal dominant heredity, and hemicrania. Pathologically, it is characterized by multiple microinfarctions, diffuse leukopathies of Binswanger type, hypertrophies of medial tissue in the cerebral perforant and meningeal arteries, and eosinophilic inclusions.
Problems With Vision And Spatial Awareness
Alzheimers disease can sometimes cause vision problems, making it difficult for people to judge distances between objects. The person may find it hard to distinguish contrast and colors or judge speed or distance.
These vision problems combined can affect the persons ability to drive.
Normal aging also affects eyesight, so it is essential to have regular checkups with an eye doctor.
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Age And Immune Response In Ad
What seemed like a farfetched idea a few years ago is now a well established fact in AD: inflammatory and immune responses have a significant role in its development and progression. Several of the genetic loci associated with AD risk contain genes with known roles in inflammation, the complement system and the immune response in general . Pathway analyses of GWAS data have identified the immune response as important in AD, and an integrated network analysis of genome and transcriptome data identified the immune and microglia module as significant for AD and TYROBP as the driver gene for this module .
Microglial activation and monocyte/macrophage-mediated inflammatory responses are currently particularly interesting areas of research on AD. To evaluate the relationship between known AD risk loci, Chan et al. recently conducted a protein quantitative trait analysis in monocytes and showed that the NME8 risk allele influences protein tyrosine kinase 2 , the CD33 risk allele influences triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 2 and the TREM1 risk allele is associated with a decreased TREM1/TREM2 ratio. Interestingly, the authors also uncovered potential differences associated with age in the expression of genes in the TREM locus. TREM1 expression was found to increase with advancing age in younger but not in older individuals, and TREM1 variants were found to affect TREM2 expression in younger but not older people .
What Are The Symptoms
The warning signs are very similar to the symptoms older people experience, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They include:
- Memory problems that disrupt daily life, such as getting lost in a familiar place, repeating questions or losing track of dates.
- Trouble handling money and paying bills.
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.
- Misplacing things and being unable to retrace steps to find them.
- Changes in mood, personality or behavior.
A recent study suggested a simple test that anyone can take may be able to detect subtle signs of dementia earlier than currently used screening tests.
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Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks
Some people may experience a greater problem with concentration. Routine day-to-day tasks requiring critical thought may take longer as the disease progresses.
The ability to drive safely may also be called into question. If you or a loved one gets lost while driving a commonly traveled route, this may be a symptom of AD.
Icipating In Alzheimer’s Disease Clinical Trials
Everybody those with Alzheimers disease or MCI as well as healthy volunteers with or without a family history of Alzheimers may be able to take part in clinical trials and studies. Participants in Alzheimers clinical research help scientists learn how the brain changes in healthy aging and in Alzheimers. Currently, at least 270,000 volunteers are needed to participate in more than 250 active clinical trials and studies that are testing ways to understand, diagnose, treat, and prevent Alzheimers disease.
Volunteering for a clinical trial is one way to help in the fight against Alzheimers. Studies need participants of different ages, sexes, races, and ethnicities to ensure that results are meaningful for many people.
NIA leads the federal governments research efforts on Alzheimers. NIA-supported Alzheimers Disease Research Centers throughout the U.S. conduct a wide range of research, including studies of the causes, diagnosis, and management of the disease. NIA also sponsors the Alzheimers Clinical Trials Consortium, which is designed to accelerate and expand studies and therapies in Alzheimers and related dementias.
To learn more about Alzheimers clinical trials and studies:
- Talk to your health care provider about local studies that may be right for you.
Watch videos of participants in Alzheimers disease clinical trials talking about their experiences.
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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.
Age At Onset As A Highly Heritable Factor In Ad
AAO is highly heritable in AD families. In early-onset cases, mutations in three genes are known to account for around half of familial cases : Amyloid Precursor Protein , Presenilin-1 and Presenilin-2 . However, the genes involved in AAO variance mostly remain to be identified linkage and candidate gene studies have established several possible associations with different loci, but the only consistently replicated modulator of AD AAO, in both familial and sporadic cases, is also the strongest genetic risk locus for the development of the disease . More recently, Naj et al. performed a large genome-wide association study in over 9000 patients to detect effects of known AD risk loci in modifying AAO. They confirmed the association of APOE4 allele with earlier onset and identified associations with CR1, BIN1 and PICALM. Burden analyses showed that APOE contributed 3.7 % of AAO variation the other nine loci studied contributed 2.2 % when considered together .
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Addressing Early Onset Alzheimers Symptoms
Fortunately, there are ways to begin treating some of the symptoms of early onset Alzheimers once its been identified, and there are ways of coping with the disease.
Family members may often have to advocate for their loved one if theyre experiencing these symptoms at a young age. Thats because primary care doctors, Ellison said, often do not have the specialized training to understand early symptoms of dementia and they typically have less and less time to spend with their patients.
Its critically important for families to persist, he said, because other treatable diseases may be causing dementia-like symptoms. Untreated attention disorder deficit, Ellison said, can often look like early dementia. In other cases, gastrointestinal issues cause dementia-like symptoms or multiple medications may be causing a negative reaction.
The first step is to check in with your doctor and ask for a memory or cognition test. Once you or your loved one has been assessed, your primary care doctor should refer you to a dementia specialist to run further tests and ultimately arrive at a diagnosis.
Being able to diagnose the disease early on can help your doctor tailor a treatment plan that may help slow the progression of the disease.
One critical reason to address early signs of dementia is the fact that Ellison and other experts say changes in lifestylediet, exercise and other stepscan help delay onset of full dementia.