Early-Onset Alzheimer’s: What You Need to Know

Posted by: The Bristal

Early-Onset AlzheimersMost cases of Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, occur in people who are over 65. In about five percent of cases, however, people develop Alzheimer’s in their 30s, 40s or 50s. Those cases are considered to be early-onset Alzheimer’s.

There are many questions surrounding early-onset Alzheimer’s and early-onset dementia. Does it differ from other cases of Alzheimer’s? What are its symptoms? How is it diagnosed and treated? How can caregivers manage? These questions are addressed below.

Types of Early-Onset Alzheimer’s

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine (JHM), there are two types of early-onset Alzheimer’s. One type is the same kind of Alzheimer’s that people over 65 develop. JHM calls this “common Alzheimer’s disease.” The second type is genetic, and extremely rare: only a few hundred people worldwide carry these genes, this is called “familial Alzheimer’s disease.”

Symptoms

The symptoms of both types of early-onset Alzheimer’s are the same as those of common Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association lists 10:

1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life

2. Challenges in planning or in solving problems

3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure

4. Confusion with time or place

5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships

6. New problems with words in speaking or writing

7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps

8. Decreased or poor judgment

9. Withdrawal from work or social activities

10. Changes in mood and personality

Diagnosis

If any of these symptoms describe your experience or that of a loved one, it is essential to visit a doctor. The first appointment should involve a thorough physical examination. Depending upon the results of this initial examination, the doctor may order tests or refer you to other doctors. Mayo Clinic provides details of probable next steps, which may include cognitive and neuropsychological tests, neurological evaluation, brain scans, laboratory tests, or psychiatric evaluation. Only after these tests are concluded can doctors decide whether the diagnosis is Alzheimer’s or another type of early-onset dementia, and recommend an appropriate course of action.

Treatment

Although there is no cure for most types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s, there are ways to reduce the severity and slow down the progress of the condition. One method is to boost brain health through physical activity, mental activity, an active social life, stress reduction and a healthy-diet.

Some methods are pharmaceutical. If the diagnosis is Alzheimer’s disease, doctors may prescribe certain drugs, such as a cholinesterase inhibitor or memantine.

What can caregivers do?

The best thing that caregivers can do is arm themselves with knowledge. They should learn everything they can about early-onset Alzheimer’s, ways to cope, and what help is available. Resources abound.

By developing a better understanding about early-onset Alzheimer’s and taking advantage of a support network, you will be better equipped to help yourself and your loved one cope with this condition.

If you are looking for a support network, check out Our Place Memory Café. Its get-togethers are designed for people suffering from dementia and their caregivers. For the caregivers, it is both comforting and useful to meet and share experiences with others in similar situations.

 

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