Information and advice on early onset dementia
An estimated 42,000 people have early onset dementia in the UK, according to a study conducted by the Alzheimer’s Society.
Early onset dementia, which is also known as young onset dementia or ‘working-age’ dementia, is when someone has symptoms of dementia before the age of 65. In younger people, it can cause them to have issues with movement, walking, co-ordination or balance.
If you are worried that you or someone you care about has early onset dementia, it is important to know what to do next. We have outlined the common symptoms to look for and the steps to follow in order to get the right help and support.
What are the signs of early onset dementia?
The symptoms of early onset dementia can have a profound effect on the person suffering from the condition. These can include:
- Memory issues, particularly short term memory loss - forgetting dates and events, repeatedly asking for the same information, or becoming more dependent on memory aids or family members.
- Poor judgement – making decisions that they wouldn’t otherwise have made. This can include making poor financial choices. They may also start to pay less attention to their cleanliness and grooming.
- Speech and language problems – having problems following or joining a conversation. They may stop halfway through a conversation, and not be able to continue or repeat what they just said. They may also struggle with vocabulary, where they are unable to recall the right words.
- Erratic changes in mood, behaviour and personality – becoming more easily upset, confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious.
- Experiencing difficulties with daily tasks – struggling with things that they did before, such as driving and managing their budgets. They may also start to put objects in unusual places and lose things.
- Difficulties in recognition, understanding and comprehension – visual problems can be a sign of dementia, including having difficulty reading, judging distance and determining colour or contrast.
It is important to note that those with early onset dementia are less likely to have the co-existing medical conditions of older people, such as diseases related to the heart and circulation, and tend to be physically fitter.
As dementia is progressive, with the brain becoming increasingly challenged overtime, a person’s symptoms will get gradually worse. As a result, they can also develop low self-esteem as a result of losing their income and independence.
Steps to take if you are worried about early onset dementia symptoms
If you or someone you care about is experiencing some of the aforementioned signs and symptoms, book an appointment with your doctor to discuss your concerns. This can help you to feel less anxious and provide you with any answers you need.
Getting a diagnosis
It can take longer for a younger person to be diagnosed with dementia. A lack of awareness of early onset dementia can cause medical professionals to misdiagnose it.
As the symptoms are also so varied, this can lengthen the process. While memory loss is seen in older patients with dementia, younger people are more likely to develop changes in their behaviour or personality. They may start to make mistakes, struggle at work and have troubles with close relationships.
A person with such symptoms needs to be closely monitored and tested over time to confirm that they have early onset dementia. We recommend keeping a diary of symptoms as this can be valuable during the diagnostic process.
Issues you may face once a diagnosis is made
A diagnosis of early onset dementia can have a big impact on the person, their family and the friends that support them.
Younger people with dementia can find it hard to accept a diagnosis as it can often be unexpected. As people become scared of the future, they can also feel a sense of loss, anger or even guilt. Common issues that a younger people with dementia will think about include:
- Having children who are dependent on them
- Having older parents who need care and support
- Having financial commitments such as mortgages
Those taking care of the person with early onset dementia may also share these concerns, as the diagnosis and unexpected changes that it is likely to bring will also affect their finances, work life and future.
You should never feel afraid to ask for help, as there are organisations across the UK who can give you information and advice in confidence.
Young Dementia UK in particular is a charity that has been set up to support people with early onset dementia as well as their family and friends.
How Priory Adult Care can help
We believe that people with early onset dementia can still enjoy an active, enjoyable and normal life through compassionate and person-centred programmes. Working to NICE guidelines around care programmes, Priory Adult Care has been helping people with early onset dementia for many years.
Our staff members understand that no two dementia patients are the same, so we make sure that every person has a unique care plan tailored to their needs. Family and friends are also involved to help a person remain integrated and valued.
Darran Thomas, Home Manager at Priory Adult Care’s Willows Mountain Ash care home, says: “At our care home, we implement person-centred care for people under 40 years of age. Our Creative Minds model of care helps people with dementia have an enhanced quality of life, where we support not only the person but the family through their journey with dementia.
“We have developed a model of working with families that has been successful, where we involve both them and the person with dementia in the day to day running of the home.”
If you would like to find out more about the early onset dementia services available within Priory Adult Care, please call our dedicated central enquires and referrals team on 0808 271 4485 or you can make an enquiry online.