Identifying Early Onset Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s disease is a condition associated with advanced age, in which a person gradually loses mental faculties. However, Alzheimer’s can also occur in middle-aged people and sometimes those as young as 30. This type of Alzheimer’s disease is called early onset Alzheimer’s and is comparatively rare. Relatively young people with successful careers, earning master’s degrees, or raising children don’t expect to face Alzheimer’s, but as with the late-onset form, recognizing and identifying the disease as soon as possible is crucial.
Early onset Alzheimer’s most often strikes people in their 50s, and sometimes younger. Early onset Alzheimer’s sufferers may still be working or raising children, so their symptoms are easily confused with stress. There’s a genetic component to the condition as well: if your grandparents had it, it’s more likely you or your siblings will develop it.
Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms of early onset Alzheimer’s are similar to those older people experience. Forgetfulness, confusion, personality changes, and lack of judgment can all point to a possible diagnosis. You should be especially concerned if your loved one seems to have trouble with basic language, like forgetting common words or the names of familiar people.
It’s important to get an accurate diagnosis as soon as possible to allows your loved one to receive care that may help provide a healthier life for a longer period of time. In addition, you and your family can begin making preparations for the later stages of the disease. Diagnosis is mainly a matter of ruling out other conditions that could cause the same symptoms. Physicians look for blood clots, brain tumors, hormone or vitamin imbalances, and other issues.
What to Do
Once your loved one has been diagnosed, there are many preparations you both should make. He should talk to his employer about the condition. Often, reducing workload can help patients function better at work and be able to do their jobs longer. You also need to discuss the diagnosis with family and make plans for when your loved one can no longer take care of himself.
Early onset Alzheimer’s progresses at the same rate as the late-onset condition. People with early onset Alzheimer’s may go into nursing homes sooner than other Alzheimer’s patients, but this is generally because their families are raising children or have other responsibilities and can’t take care of them full time.
Early onset Alzheimer’s can be scary for both you and your loved one. You’ll both face process grief, fear, and anger before being able to handle this diagnosis. However, if the disease is identified early, your loved one can have a normal life for a fairly long time, and make an easier transition to full-time care when the time comes.
By Elaine Hirsch
Elaine is kind of a jack-of-all-interests, from education and history to medicine and videogames. This makes it difficult to choose just one life path, so she is currently working as a writer for various education-related sites and writing about all these things instead. Elaine currently writes for a master’s degree resource. She can be reached at by Email