The Impact of Early Onset Dementia

Dementia is difficult to deal with at any age, for both those diagnosed and the people around them. Early onset dementia can be particularly tough, as it is something that many people think they won’t need to be concerned about until they’re well into their 60s or even older. When Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia occur in people who are younger than 65, it is regarded as being early-onset or young-onset. People in their 40s, 50s or early 60s might experience dementia, including Alzheimer’s or a rare type of dementia called frontotemporal dementia (FTD) or Pick’s disease.

Other types of dementia that might affect people under 65 include vascular dementia, Korsakoff’s syndrome, dementia with Lewy bodies, Huntington’s disease-related dementia, CADASIL (a rare, hereditary form of stroke), and posterior cortical atrophy. The signs and symptoms of dementia can vary by time, as well as differing by the individual. Some people experience symptoms that others never experience. They can include memory loss, behavioural changes, confusion, difficulty speaking, and trouble completing day-to-day tasks.

Early onset dementia has an impact on both the person diagnosed and their friends and family. Someone diagnosed with dementia at an early age might still be working and their diagnosis could mean they and their family lose a significant source of income, causing financial struggles. Living with young onset dementia can feel tough because most cases of dementia occur in people over the age of 65. It can require major adjustments to your life and have both a practical and psychological impact. Relationships can be affected in a variety of ways and finding the right support isn’t always easy.

As dementia gradually gets worse, the effects can become even more difficult to deal with. Friends and family can also struggle with the changes in their loved one, who can sometimes become almost unrecognisable. Some challenging behaviours can be tough to see and distressing for everyone involved. Accessing the right support for early onset dementia is an important part of making life after a diagnosis easier to manage. There are various services set up to support people with young onset dementia, as well as their families. These services can help people to adjust to changes in their life while staying at home. However, for some people a move to alternative accommodation can be the best idea, particularly as their needs progress.

St Matthew’s Healthcare provides dementia care at four homes in Northampton and Coventry. In addition to offering dementia care for older people, we also welcome younger adults who have been diagnosed with dementia in our homes. Residential care is sometimes necessary when the person with dementia can no longer live alone or cannot receive the care they need while living at home. Our homes offer individualised care for those who need it, aiming to provide an excellent standard of living and a balanced approach to all aspects of health.

The journey faced by people with early onset dementia and those around them isn’t an easy one. However, with the right support it can be more manageable.