What is Early Onset Alzheimer’s?
Like the form of Alzheimer’s that occurs in older adults, early onset causes memory problems. The trick, however, is knowing the difference between normal blips in your memory and actual early onset Alzheimer’s.
Since we all experience at least mild memory issues from time to time, it’s important to note that dementia causes memory loss that disrupts daily life. It’s when someone is forgetting learned information and/or important dates that there may be cause for concern.
If you temporarily can’t place a name or your forget an appointment but remember later on, that’s most likely just typical age-related change. It’s probably not early onset Alzheimer’s.
What are the Signs of Early Onset Alzheimer’s?
Since health care providers don’t always look for signs of early onset Alzheimer’s, it may be up to you and your loved ones to know the signs. Early onset, as it’s often called, can be misdiagnosed as symptoms of stress. Plus, there are several health conditions that mimic Alzheimer’s disease.
If you’re concerned about early onset, here are the warning signs. You’ll notice they mirror the symptoms of Alzheimer’s in older people:
- forgetting important dates
- changes in mood
- behavior differences
- deterioration of organizing or planning skills
- showing worse and worse judgment
- asking the same question again and again
- vision problems such as trouble with depth perception
- not knowing where you are or how you got there
- withdrawal from the social scene
- trouble finding the right word during conversation
Know the Symptoms, but Check with Your Doctor
If you think you or a loved one is showing signs of early onset Alzheimer’s, the best course of action is to visit your doctor.
Remember that there’s no single test for the disease. Doctors make their diagnosis through any or all of the following:
- a medical exam
- blood test
- urine sample
- spinal fluid test
- cognitive tests
- brain imaging (MRI or CT)
- a neurological exam
Early Onset Alzheimer’s Isn’t Common
There are around 5.3 million cases of Alzheimer’s disease in the United States. Of those, only 200,000 cases were diagnosed before the age of 65. While your chances of developing early onset are low, Alzheimer’s disease is still the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, according to the CDC.
Sadly, however, public awareness and public funding for research remains quite low. That certainly doesn’t correlate with the fact that one of the greatest fears in the United States about aging is dementia.
More Awareness Needed
Actor and comedian Seth Rogen has taken these statistics to heart and started an awareness movement. After his wife’s mother was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, he started a charity called Hilarity for Charity.
In a speech before a U.S. Senate subcommittee, Rogen stated that Alzheimer’s is the most costly condition in the United States. He also noted that deaths from H.I.V and heart disease continue to decline but not rates of Alzheimer’s. Hilarity for Charity seeks to remedy these sad facts through awareness and funding for research.
The Bridge to Rediscovery Program at Five Star Senior Living
We take movements like Mr. Rogen’s very seriously. We applaud the star’s efforts at increasing awareness of and funding for Alzheimer’s. Our Bridge to Rediscovery (BTR) Program is built upon principles derived from scientific research like that which Mr. Rogen supports.
Bridge to Rediscovery is for senior with dementia. Here we provide a safe, nurturing environment where residents can flourish. If you’d like to learn more about our award-winning BTR program for seniors living with Alzheimer’s disease, please call us.