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Dementia in Young Adults

Stressed young adult

What is young onset dementia??

Dementia is considered ‘young onset’ when it affects people under the age of 65.

It is sometimes referred to as ‘early onset’ dementia, and an estimated 42,000 people in the UK along have been diagnosed.

What causes young onset dementia?

Unlike with older people, there are distinct differences in the types of young onset dementia.
Statistically speaking, only 34% of diagnoses among young adults are Alzheimer’s disease.
That figure is 60%, almost double, for those over 65.
 
Young onset dementia commonly affects the frontal and temporal lobe, which is why a total of 12% are diagnosed with frontotemporal dementiaIn contrast, the same type affects 2% of elderly people diagnosed.
 
Younger people are also at risk of developing rare forms of dementia that run in their family.
 
Familial dementia occurs as a result of genetic mutations over generations and can lead to the development of familial Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia and familial vascular dementia.
 
The diagnosis of young onset dementia can be a frightening time, not only for those diagnosed but also for their loved ones. 
 
However together with early recognition and accurate assessment, combined with specialist support, relationships can still be positive.

How does young onset dementia develop?

The early symptoms can vary because different areas of the brain will be affected. 
Unlike dementia in the elderly, young onset dementia is less likely to appear prevalently as memory loss
 
Often mood and personality changes are more noticeable with sufferers becoming more irritable or apathetic.
 
The most common dementias in younger people will often affect the frontal and temporal lobes first, which could cause the following symptoms:
 
  • Changes in behaviour
  • Struggles functioning in a social setting
  • Changes in relationships
  • Decreased motivation
  • Changes in daily activities and routines
  • Signs of depression or anxiety
  • Difficulty problem-solving and making decisions
  • Concentration is challenging

To learn more about dementia, see our main article on what you can do to help those with this distressing disease. 

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