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Dementia In Young Adults

Human brain power connections

Dementia is more common in people who are over 65, but it can also strike younger people.A new study finds that one in 20 cases of dementia occur in people under 65. In the U.S., some 175,000 people between the ages of 30 and 64 have early-onset dementia. 

Early-Onset Dementia

Early-onset dementia is still rare enough that most doctors don’t have experience diagnosing or treating it. Young people who exhibit symptoms are often misdiagnosed and do not get the right treatment. The most common symptom is memory issues, which can be attributed to other conditions more prevalent in younger people. Memory lapses can occur because of anxiety, stress, or depression – all of which many young people experience. But if someone displays more pervasive cognitive problems, such as impaired judgment or thinking, early-onset dementia may be the culprit.

Risk Increases with Age

The prevalence of early-onset dementia is only about one case per 100,000 people among 30- to 34-year-olds. That number goes up to 77 cases per 100,000 in people who are 60 to 64. In both age groups, early-onset dementia is extremely rare – statistically, there is about a 0.08 percent chance of being diagnosed with the disease. This makes treatment for early-onset dementia patients difficult. There are few specialists who are equipped to diagnose and treat it, and just as few homes or centers that will accept younger dementia patients. 

What to Look For

The causes of early-onset dementia mirror those of late-onset dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, as well as conditions that impair blood flow to the brain, such as stroke or other vascular issues. Some younger patients may have a parent who was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, a form of dementia that is inherited and the cause of about a third of cases. It is often diagnosed at a younger age.

While early-onset dementia is rare, it accounts for up to 5 percent of all dementia cases. Today, as many as 4 million people are living with early-onset dementia around the globe.

The prevalence of early-onset dementia is just another reason to begin to practice and if started, continue forever, activities and nutrition that fuel your brain health. It is never too early to begin.