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Early Onset Dementia: The Facts
Elizabeth Bemis

By: Elizabeth Bemis on August 12th, 2013

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Early Onset Dementia: The Facts

early onset dementia  |  dementia care  |  early onset dementia care  |  assisted living  |  lifestyle transitions  |  Aging & Caregiving

Early Onset Dementia - Lifestyle TransitionsHow much forgetfulness is too much? Forgetting where you last placed your car keys or your reading glasses five minutes ago is a common memory lapse, unrelated to the debilitating memory disease described under the  clinical condition—dementia. Researchers believe it is important to distinguish between the various types of dementia that occur with aging, even more so today when younger populations under the age of 65 are developing what is characterized as early onset dementia.

People in their 40s, 50s and 60s are being diagnosed with a disease that was once restricted to seniors who were 70 and older. In this guide we will discuss a few key details about early onset dementia, who is at risk for this disease, and when a specific trait warrants professional attention.

What is Early Onset Dementia

Early onset dementia is a type of Alzheimer’s dementia, the same memory-robbing disease we have come to know over the years, which begins at middle age. People with early onset dementia start showing signs of the disease within their 40s and 50s. These are often individuals at the peak of their careers and many are caregivers themselves catering to aging parents suffering from the disease. 

It is estimated that more than 200,000 people have the disease. Since this form of dementia is seen as uncommon, getting an early diagnosis is not to be expected; in fact misdiagnosis is a common barrier to managing the condition.

People Who are at Risk

Early onset dementia tends to run in families. Many individuals with this type of dementia have a parent or grandparent who also developed the disease at an age that was younger than normal.

Recent studies have pinpointed certain rare genes directly linked to this early Alzheimer’s dementia. People who inherit these familial genes tend to develop symptoms in their 30s, 40s, and 50s.

When to Seek Medical Help

If early onset dementia runs in your family should you get tested?  Doctors believe this is a safe option; they also believe that genetic counseling should be considered early to help examine the pros and cons of a diagnosis; for example, how the condition will impact the person’s eligibility for long term care. 

Medications available on the market work best in treating symptoms at early stages of the disease. Hence, if you know you have the “early-onset” genes you may be able to take steps to reduce symptoms with early treatment.

Several resources and network groups are available online to educate and support individuals with this illness. This vast resource can help caregivers care for themselves and function on their own for as long as possible. Support is a powerful tool in lifting the spirits of caregivers who often feel overwhelmed and alienated.

Key Takeaways:

  • It is important to distinguish among the various types of dementia that can occur with aging, even more so today, when younger populations under the age of 65 are developing early onset dementia.
  • People with early onset dementia start showing signs of cognitive impairment within their 40s and 50s.
  • Early diagnosis is crucial to effectively treat the symptoms; however, since this form of dementia is still perceived as uncommon, getting an early diagnosis is not typical and misdiagnosis is often the primary barrier to treatment.
  • Recent studies have pinpointed certain rare genes directly linked to this early onset Alzheimer’s-type dementia.

Memory Care Senior Living Options for Dementia & Alzheimer's

When caring for someone with Alzheimer's or Dementia becomes too difficult for the caregiver there are several senior living communities that specialize in memory care. To learn more about our Lifestyle Transitions Specialized Assisted Living and Memory Support community in Shelton, CT, please visit our website www.umh.org/wesley-village/lifestyle-transitions or contact us here!


About Elizabeth Bemis

In 1998, I drove past an assisted living community construction site, learned that it was part of United Methodist Homes and realized the next stop on my professional journey was to work for a mission driven organization. Soon after, I joined the team as Executive Director of our Middlewoods of Farmington community and later served as Regional Manager for the Middlewoods properties before accepting my current role as Vice President of Marketing, Promotions, and Assisted Living Operations. I enjoy spending time with my family, cooking, reading, walking, and love working alongside our staff, residents, and families to build strong communities that reflect the mission, vision, and values of United Methodist Homes.

Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.