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Early-onset Alzheimer’s Symptoms: Know the Signs and Find the Help You Need

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are not new illnesses. Before the findings of modern medicine, Alzheimer’s patients were often misdiagnosed as senile and memory loss was just an unfortunate symptom of aging. Today we know more than ever about dementia and Alzheimer’s symptoms and continued research works to find the cause and cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

A specific type of Alzheimer’s, known as Early-onset or Younger Alzheimer’s affects adults under the age of 65. Typically, adults with early-onset will display Alzheimer’s symptoms in their 40s and 50s. Their disease typically goes either unnoticed or misdiagnosed by primary physicians, who attribute symptoms to stress or other neurological factors. Dementia may be common among elderly adults, but younger adults are at risk as well.

What is Early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is split into three general stages: early stage, middle stage, and late stage. The disease affects each person differently in each stage and the symptoms vary. Alzheimer’s typically progresses slowly over time in adults over the age of 65. What makes early-onset dementia unique is that it occurs in younger adults.

Doctors do not know why early-onset Alzheimer’s symptoms appear in such young brains. There have been studies that indicate several genetic mutations that directly cause Alzheimer’s. For this reason, early-onset Alzheimer’s is often referred to as “familial dementia.” These genes account for 60-70% of early-onset Alzheimer’s cases.

[http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/in-depth/alzheimers/art-20048356?pg=1]

Genetic testing for these mutations is available, but talking extensively with a doctor is recommended as a good first step. Getting an accurate diagnosis for early-onset Alzheimer’s can be difficult and require many neurological exams, brain mapping, and extensive tests. If you suspect you or a loved one are experiencing early-onset Alzheimer’s symptoms below, consult with a medical professional immediately.

What are Early-onset Alzheimer’s Symptoms?

Alzheimer’s symptoms focus on memory loss that disrupts daily life. This can include challenges in planning or solving problems, difficulty completing familiar tasks at home or work, misplacing things, and changes in mood and personality.

[http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_early_onset.asp]

Early-onset Alzheimer’s symptoms typically introduce new problems at work or at home for younger adults. Talking with a doctor is essential to determining the true cause of these symptoms and whether they are related to early dementia.

There are some major differences between forgetfulness and dementia. Read our “Forgetfulness vs. Alzheimer’s of Dementia” to learn more!

How to Plan for the Future

If you have been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, know that you are never alone. Below are some steps suggested by the Alzheimer’s Association for coping after a diagnosis:

  1. Educate Yourself on the Impact of the Disease on Your Life
    Early-onset Alzheimer’s and dementia will inevitably have an impact on your life as a spouse, parent, and employee. It is normal to grief over anticipated changes. Taking care of your emotional and physical needs is essential. Educating yourself as much as possible about your disease and utilizing support groups can help your entire family move forward after a diagnosis.
  2. Make Plans for Your Financial Future
    Many times, early-onset dementia impacts a young adult’s ability to work. Talking with your employer about the limitations of your disease is important. You should be open and honest about how you see your professional future fitting into your disease. Your employer may offer benefits such as disability insurable, early retirement, family and medical leave, and other health insurance benefits. View a detailed brochure about financial and health care benefits for Alzheimer’s patients here: https://www.alz.org/i-have-alz/if-you-have-younger-onset-alzheimers.asp
  3. Plan for Future Care
    In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, you are able to put critical plans into place. This can include the type of care you want to receive in the later stages of Alzheimer’s. Talk to your doctor about participating in a research study. Explore long term care options and assisted living facilities in your area. While it will no doubt be difficult, choosing how you want to spend your life with Alzheimer’s will make coping with the disease manageable for you and your family.
  4. Live Well
    Early-onset Alzheimer’s presents a variety of unexpected challenges. The silver lining lies in your choice of how to live. Take care of yourself by maintaining your physical, emotional, social, and spiritual health. Find activities or professionals that help you reduce stress. Taking each day as it comes is important to coping with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Download the Alzheimer’s Association’s brochure on younger-onset Alzheimer’s Disease here.

To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia and how specialized care can help, please call ComfortCare Home of Wichita at (316) 444-0532.

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