Dementia takes many forms, such as Alzheimers disease, Vascular dementia, Fronto-temporal, Lewy Body etc. Many people assume that Alzheimer's disease and other causes of dementia only affect older people. In fact about 1 person in every 1000 with dementia is below the age of 65. While rare, it can affect people in their 40's and 50's. Younger people tend to be affected by the less common forms of dementia, which often present with more challenging behaviours and progress at a faster rate.
Any dementia beginning before the age of 65 is known as younger onset, even if the correct diagnosis is not received by the person until a later age. There are estimated to be approximately 22 000 Australians currently living with younger onset dementia but there are very few services to cater for their specific needs. Through targeted promotion and advocacy, it is hoped to raise the profile of the illness and the impact it has on those affected by it.
Symptoms of younger onset dementia
The symptoms of dementia are similar whatever the person's age. Dementia affects the brain in many ways and may cause:
- Mood changes and inappropriate interactions
- Disorientation in time, day and place
- Difficulties in communication
- Inability to concentrate
- Personality changes
- Difficulties in recognition, understanding and comprehension
- Behavioural changes
Although the symptoms of dementia are similar whatever a person's age, younger people with dementia have additional issues. They may:
- Be in work at the time of diagnosis
Have dependent children still living at home
Have significant financial commitments
Be physically fit and behave in ways that other people find challenging
Be more aware of their disease in the early stages
Find it hard to accept and cope with losing skills at such a young age
Find it difficult to access information, support and services for younger people with dementia
Have a carer who is still in fulltime employment
Often have the rarer types of dementia (such as fronto temporal and lewy body) which present with more challenging behaviours.
If you have been recently diagnosed with younger onset dementia, please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org for a free copy of the booklet "Younger Onset Dementia: A Guide for Someone Newly Diagnosed"