Early Onset Dementia
Dementia is degeneration of the brain that causes a progressive decline in people’s abilities to think. People with early onset dementia are those who suffer with symptoms, at the ages under 65 years old. Early onset dementia can also be referred to as ‘working age’ dementia.
Common types of dementia in young people:
- Alzheimer’s disease- this is the most common form of dementia in younger people.
- Vascular Dementia- this is the second most common form of dementia in young people. Around 20% of young people with dementia have Vascular Dementia.
- Around 12% of young people with Dementia have Fronto-Temporal Dementia. It most commonly occurs between the ages of 45-65 years. In about 40% of cases there is a family history of the condition.
- Karsakoff’s Syndrome- around 10% of Dementias in young people are caused by lack of vitamin B1, most commonly associated with alcohol abuse.
Signs and Symptoms:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life
- Challenges in planning or solving problems
- Difficulty in solving problems at home, work or leisure
- Confusion with time or place
- Trouble understanding visual images
- New problems with words in speaking or writing
- Misplacing things and inability to retrace steps
- Decreased or poor judgement
- Withdrawal from work or social activities
- Changes in mood and personality.
Each person’s experience of dementia is unique. Young people with dementia have different needs. They might-
- Be in work at the time of their diagnosis
- Have children living at home who still depend on them
- Have financial commitments
- Be physically fit
- Find it hard to accept their condition
- Find it difficult to access information
1 in 10 people who have a learning disability develop early onset dementia.
Young people with dementia often feel extra discrimination because most care settings and services are focussed more towards people aged 65 years and over. This means it is more difficult for younger people and their families to access support.
Physiological changes with dementia:
- Fatigue, due to extra demands
- Stronger emotions and bodily sensations that are unexplainable
- Visual disturbances
Social life changes with Dementia:
- Some friends may be lost after your diagnosis
- Making new friends with via support groups
- Not being able to go out and participate in certain things
Maintaining physical health:
- Attending guided walks
- Organised activities
- Eating well and making sure you get the right nutrition
Developing early onset Dementia can be very difficult for the patient and their families, there is a lot of support that can be given to the patient and their family. This means they are not going through a difficult time alone.