What is Early Onset Dementia?

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  • Written By: Misty Amber Brighton
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 16 July 2019
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Early onset dementia is often used to describe the decline in memory and reasoning in people under the age of 65. Such individuals may have trouble rationalizing everyday situations and react emotionally to common situations they had previously dealt with easily. Dementia may strike patients as young as 30 years old, but is usually more prevalent in those over 50. In some cases, the disease can leave patients unable to work, and result in a loss of self-esteem and strained relationships.

One of the symptoms typically associated with early onset dementia is the loss of memory. Often the affected individual will misplace items or forget appointments. These events typically become nearly everyday occurrences in those showing signs of this disease. A person might also have difficulty remembering to take medications, bathe, or shave. A patient's ability to remember can often vary widely from day to day, and week to week.

Decision-making skills are often affected by this disease. Many times, people exhibiting symptoms of early onset dementia will do things that are out of character for them, such as making impulsive purchases. Patients may sometimes become very rigid in their thinking, and unwilling to listen to advice from others. Also, they may react emotionally when relatives or trusted friends attempt to intervene on their behalf, often due to the sufferer's poor decision-making.


Early onset dementia is more likely to affect people between the ages of 50 and 65 than any other group. That does not mean that younger individuals are excluded from contracting this disease. Occasionally, patients as young as 30 are diagnosed with having signs of dementia. Physicians are generally unable to predict which of their patients will show symptoms of this ailment, or at what age this can occur.

Many times, people who exhibit signs of early onset dementia are eventually unable to work as long as those without the condition. This loss of employment can lead to issues with poor self-esteem, often due to a feeling of worthlessness. Frequently, a parent's relationship with a child suffers as well, because that child is unprepared to deal with the parent's dementia. Caring for a person with this disease can cause stress to the extended family, as they try to take over duties the affected person had previously done by or for himself.

The condition is often difficult to diagnose in the early stages. A doctor must often rule out the possibility of other ailments, such as depression, before coming to a conclusion. As it progresses, the fact that a person is suffering from this disease usually becomes more obvious.

People who have relatives that developed early onset dementia are more likely to contract this disease than people with no family history of it. They may also show signs of this ailment sooner than those who do not have family members with this disease. Individuals who are at risk in this way may want to seek the advice of a physician, if they exhibit symptoms of dementia, so a treatment plan may be discussed.



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