Early-onset dementia, or younger-onset dementia, is a dementia that strikes people who are younger than 65. Dementias impacting people after the age of 65 are considered late onset. The types of dementia diagnosed in those younger than 65 are
- Alzheimer's disease (AD)
- Vascular dementia (VaD)
- Frontotemporal dementia
- Alcohol-related dementia
- Dementia with Lewy bodies
Understanding Early Onset Dementia
Some chapters of the Alzheimer's Association are beginning to use the name younger-onset dementia instead of early-onset dementia. Members of the association state there can be confusion for families hearing the diagnosis of early-onset dementia. “Early onset” does not refer to the stage of the disease; it refers to the age at which a person is diagnosed with dementia.
Early-Onset Alzheimer's Disease
Early onset Alzheimer's disease (AD) 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.
Individuals diagnosed relatively early in their lives can still be in the midst of starting careers, raising families, or supporting elderly parents. These factors can all complicate living with early-onset AD. It is important to get a correct diagnosis of early-onset dementia, or early onset Alzheimer's disease, as soon as possible. This way, the person living with early-onset AD can make changes in their life and get the necessary support from their family, friends, and workplace.
Living With Early-Onset Dementia
A recent 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.