Dementiavictims are getting younger. A story from “The Times” in London indicate 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. There are a number of 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 which 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. 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. Specialists 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 Dementia.org, 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 early ages can be a result of treatable health issues.