Understanding Early Onset Alzheimer’s: A Deep Dive into the Rare Form of Dementia Affecting Younger Individuals

Alzheimer’s disease, the most prevalent form of dementia, is typically associated with individuals over the age of 65. However, a lesser-known variant of the disease, known as early onset Alzheimer’s, affects a small percentage of people in their 40s and 50s.

While Alzheimer’s disease predominantly affects older individuals, it can occasionally manifest in younger people. Those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease under the age of 65 are categorised as having “early onset” Alzheimer’s. This form of the disease is relatively rare, accounting for only around 5% of all Alzheimer’s cases. Given that age is a significant risk factor for the disease, it is predominantly observed in older individuals.

Typically, Alzheimer’s disease is seen in older people rather than younger.

Early onset Alzheimer’s is defined by the age of the individual at the time of diagnosis. Anyone diagnosed with Alzheimer’s before the age of 65 is considered to have early onset Alzheimer’s. This typically includes people in their 40s and 50s, although cases have been reported in individuals in their 30s.

The primary distinguishing factor between early-onset Alzheimer’s and late-onset Alzheimer’s is the age of the individual. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s, regardless of the age of onset, include memory loss that disrupts daily life, difficulty planning or completing familiar tasks, vision problems, communication difficulties, frequent misplacement of items, poor judgement, social withdrawal, and mood changes. As the disease progresses, symptoms intensify and additional symptoms may appear. This progression is consistent regardless of the age at which the disease manifests.

There isn’t much of a difference between the symptoms associated with early onset versus late onset Alzheimer’s.

The progression of early-onset Alzheimer’s mirrors that of late-onset Alzheimer’s, with the disease advancing through three distinct stages. The initial stage is referred to as the early or mild stage, followed by the middle or moderate stage, and finally, the late or severe stage. As an individual navigates through these stages, their need for care increases due to the escalating severity of symptoms over time.

Whatever form of Alzheimer’s disease a person has, they are going to need lots of care and support, especially as the disease progresses. (iStock)


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