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Navigating the Future with Early-Onset Alzheimer’s

So, what is a Early-Onset Alzheimer’s? Usually we hear about seniors getting diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Early-Onset Alzheimer’s is an uncommon form of dementia that happens to people age 65 and younger. It is estimated that 5% of individuals develop this disease at an younger age.

According to Alz.org “An estimated 5.8 million Americans of all ages are living with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2019. This number includes an estimated 5.6 million people age 65 and older and approximately 200,000 individuals under age 65 who have younger-onset Alzheimer’s. “

It is believed that this uncommon type of dementia in younger individuals is inherited from parents or grandparents who may also have developed this disease at an earlier age.

Individuals younger than age 65 may not have other long term medical conditions besides dementia. Younger individuals or more fit and healthy as compared to seniors living with the disease. People diagnosed with Early-Onset dementia are more likely to have problems with walking and movement. It is for this reason reason that they may have to see a neurologist and a psychiatrist.

It is extremely important to get an accurate diagnosis from a doctor. It will also help in ruling out other medical conditions or factors. Proper diagnosis will help in navigating the future with this disease since it can be a life changing event, both for an individual and family members.

  • Younger people with dementia may have different symptoms as compared to seniors living with the disease.
  • Younger individuals may have a really hard time accepting the
  • diagnosis since they probably have many other things they want to accomplish in life or other responsibilities and commitments that haven’t been fulfilled yet.
  • They may have dependent children or older parents to care for.
  • Individuals diagnosed at an early age with dementia may not be ready
  • to retire yet. However, this diagnosis changes everything. Losing a job can have a financial impact for the family.

Diagnosed with Early-Onset Alzheimer’s, What Now!

  • Talk to your family and especially your children and help them understand the disease. It will be beneficial for all.
  • Since the disease is in it’s early stages, it’s very important to plan for the future. Do financial planning, talk to your employer about your job responsibilities. Explore what benefits may be offered to you under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Family and Medical Leave Act and COBRA.
  • Try to reduce stress in every day life. Eat healthy and exercise.
  • Join a support group and talk about your feelings. It’s normal to be afraid of the road ahead with this disease but talking about it with others (who are also learning to live with this disease) helps.
  • Gather information about resources you may need in the future.