Dementia Victims Younger and Younger

With research showing dementia victims are getting memory loss at younger ages has created additional pressures for loved ones. Planning ahead and seeing a MD right away are key.

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Dementia Victims Younger and Younger
4 Min Read August 5th, 2015 Updated:October 22nd, 2019

Approximately 200,000 people in the United States alone have early-onset Alzheimer's, the most famous form of dementia, according to the Alzheimer's Association. While your risk becomes greater as you get older, more people are now being diagnosed for memory issues at younger ages. 

Memory Loss Impacts More Than Just the Elderly

Dementia victims are getting younger. A story from “The Times” in London indicates that more and more people are being impacted by memory loss at younger ages. The story says dementia is being diagnosed in people a decade earlier than it was 20 years ago, prompting experts to warn that the world is facing a “silent epidemic”.

The disease is now regularly being identified in people in their late 40s, research analyzing data from 21 countries has found.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, although the risk of dementia increases with age, many thousands of people under the age of 65 have received a diagnosis of dementia.

Early Dementia Devastates Families

Memory loss at an early age creates a crisis for a family. The person generally would no longer to be able to work so their income would be reduced creating a financial impact. The person usually would be a spouse and a parent. The family dynamic changes as Mom or Dad become dependant on others. The cost of care will devastate  savings and income. Since health insurance, like Medicare for those age 65 and older, will not pay for dementia long-term care services, unless the person as a Long-Term Care Insurance policy income and assets will pay for care services or family members will become caregivers ... even both.

There are several terms used to describe the onset of dementia in younger people. They include:

  • Young Onset Dementia
  • Working Age Dementia
  • Early Onset Dementia
  • Younger People With Dementia

Roughly a third of young people with dementia have Alzheimer's disease.

Some of these people have “reversible dementia”. This is memory loss which can be successfully treated. Things like alcohol dependence and poisoning, depression, brain tumors, liver, and renal failure, stroke, and even hormone issues from women going through menopause can cause memory issues that can be treated.

However, the alarming news here is this only impacts some of the dementia being diagnosed.

Other types of dementia can occur as a result of brain damage, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) and Pick's disease.

As symptoms of dementia occur before the age of 65 and can, very rarely, be as early as the mid-thirties, younger people with dementia have a number of very specific issues. Most, if not all, will be employed and will have financial commitments such as mortgages. They may have young families. They will probably be fit and active. Specifically, they may struggle to find a specialist service that is equipped for the needs of early-onset dementia.

Relatively few specialist services exist for younger people with dementia. Few people under age 50 have Long-Term Care Insurance which would pay for supervision and other services that normal health insurance would not pay for. In recent years younger people have been purchasing Long-Term Care Insurance. 

Long-Term Care Insurance is the Solution - If You Have a Policy in Place

The American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI) reports that 36.8 of all people buying Long-Term Care Insurance are under age 55 with only 11.8% being under age 45 despite the lower cost of the insurance at that age. Experts indicate that this places huge burdens on families of these people.

The average survival time for people diagnosed with dementia is about four and a half years, research shows. Those diagnosed before age 70 typically live for a decade or longer as their overall health is many times very good.

Early-onset Alzheimer's disease (AD), which is different than early dementia, is most commonly diagnosed in someone's 50s but can be diagnosed as early as their 30s or 40s. There is a strong genetic component to the disease; those whose grandparents or parents with AD are at a much greater risk of developing AD themselves.

According to, a study found that early-onset dementia was being diagnosed much more often than previously thought, but also that those diagnosed were not receiving appropriate aftercare. Patients lacked age-appropriate services and had difficulty finding placement in adult care facilities, despite the hardship placed on families caring for individuals with early-onset dementia.

There are few medical treatment options for those with early-onset dementia. Experts recommend making lifestyle adjustments, working together as a family to find the best plan of action, and consulting with doctors, health specialists, and other treatment planners as needed.

Everyone agrees, however, that anyone who thinks they may have an issue with memory should see a doctor. Some memory loss at an early age can be a result of treatable health issues.

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About the Author

An LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.

LTC News Contributor James Kelly

James Kelly

Contributor since August 21st, 2017

Editor's Note

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