Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Early Onset Dementia

Early onset dementia, also called young onset dementia, is thought to occur in people under age 65. This form of dementia is especially difficult as many of the persons with this form of the disease have children at home that they are raising and are still actively working to support this family. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that there are approximately 500,000 persons in the U.S. between the ages of 30 and 50 years of age with Alzheimer’s disease.

Symptoms of Early Onset Dementia
Early onset dementia may start suddenly with symptoms such as memory loss, odd behavior or outbursts. Since the person is so young, family members and even medical professionals may not think the symptoms match up to dementia at first.

Risk Factors of Early Onset Dementia
The causes of early onset dementia are still unknown but a mutation of any of three specific genes is thought to be involved. A family history of having a parent or grandparent who had early onset dementia is also felt to be a risk factor for developing the disease.

Early Onset Dementia – Special Considerations
In addition to being harder to diagnose, early onset dementia has unique situations that occur in the person with the disease and their caregivers. Some of the special challenges include:

Early Onset Dementia – Special Considerations
  • Disruptions in job and future with the person diagnosed being fired or asked to retire, impacting medical benefits.
  • Sudden loss of income and financial stability, often to the primary family earner.
  • Children are impacted, having to deal with upheaval in the family of having a chronically ill parent, loss of financial security and a change in future plans.
  • Losses for the diagnosed person include self esteem, self worth.
  • Due to age, the person diagnosed may also be more aware of the impact of the disease in the early stages.
Treatment Options - Early Onset Dementia
There is currently no cure for early onset dementia and no specific drugs that have proven helpful, although research continues.

Family members may opt to get genetic testing to see if they are at risk for developing the disease and then receive counseling, based on the results. Caregivers may benefit from attending a dementia support group. There is special support groups available in some locations designed to deal with the unique needs of these caregivers.

Compliments of The Dementia Caregivers Toolbox.

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