09 May Can young people get Alzheimer’s too?
There may be some young people out there experiencing certain symptoms thinking, “What is wrong with me? Surely this cannot be Alzheimer’s?”. However, contrary to popular belief, Alzheimer’s disease is not limited to older people and it can, in fact, affect young people too.
Early-onset Alzheimer’s (also known as younger-onset Alzheimer’s) is a form of Alzheimer’s that affects people under the age of 65. Keep reading to find out more about this rare disease.
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How does early-onset Alzheimer’s start?
This rare form of Alzheimer’s represents a mere 5% of all cases of Alzheimer’s. The symptoms can start manifesting themselves between the ages of 40 and 50 years old, although there have been some cases of symptoms appearing from the age of 30.
Just like in normal Alzheimer’s, the symptoms of early-onset Alzheimer’s are as follows:
- Loss or changes to memory
- Behavioral changes
- Inability to carry out day-to-day tasks
- Cognitive deterioration
Causes of early-onset Alzheimer’s
Although the exact cause of Alzheimer’s in younger people is still unknown, they have found a relationship between rare gene varieties and Alzheimer’s. People that inherit these genetic characteristics tend to develop symptoms between the ages of 30 and 50 years old.
When the cause of Alzheimer’s appears to be genetic, it is called “familial Alzheimer’s disease”.
Familial Alzheimer’s disease
What happens with this type of Alzheimer’s is that, due to a specific gene, communication between the different parts of the brain is interrupted and causes its degeneration, leading to decline in terms of memory, cognitive function, behavior, etc.
In this disease, plaque starts to accumulate in certain parts of the brain, which causes irreversible damage that leads to the onset of Alzheimer’s.
Diagnosing early-onset Alzheimer’s
Diagnosing early-onset Alzheimer’s can be a long and frustrating process, as specialists do not tend to look for this disease in younger patients. Its symptoms can be confused with stress or other more common pathologies, or they can be given different diagnoses by different health professionals.
People with early-onset Alzheimer’s can show different symptoms in different stages of the disease. These stages are the same as Alzheimer’s which develops from the age of 65. It is important to remember that this disease affects each person differently, so symptoms can vary from person to person.
If you are concerned that your memory is getting significantly worse, you should talk to your doctor as soon as possible.
Ask your doctor to give you a full examination and to carry out cognitive tests, neurological exams and a brain scan. Make a note of any symptoms you are experiencing that suggest cognitive impairment or memory problems, so that you can clearly express your concerns to the doctor that is examining you.
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If you have early-onset Alzheimer’s, you are not alone. Share your experience with us. Livee offers information, support and treatment options to help you cope with your disease and live a full, healthy life.