Alzheimer’s disease affects millions of people in the United States and all over the world, with the majority of patients being of advanced age. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible for younger people to develop Alzheimer’s disease or experience symptoms of the condition. Early-onset Alzheimer’s is rare, but it does exist, and it can be hard for younger patients to find the information they need to better understand their diagnosis. If you want to learn more about the early presentation of the disease, read on for a look at symptoms of Alzheimer’s in younger people.
What are some symptoms of Alzheimer’s in younger people?
Though Alzheimer’s is a disease primarily associated with older people, patients can actually develop Alzheimer’s symptoms at a younger age. Older adults make up the majority of Alzheimer’s patients, but the disease can impact people as early as their 30s or 40s. Experts still aren’t sure what triggers the onset of Alzheimer’s, though they suspect it has something to do with two specific proteins that are responsible for killing nerve cells in the brain at an accelerated rate.
When the disease appears in a patient who is under the age of 65, it is referred to as early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Most people who develop early-onset Alzheimer’s have the common form of the disease, which progresses the same way as it would in someone at a more advanced age. There is also a rarer form of Alzheimer’s that has a specific genetic component, where those affected begin to show symptoms in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. Family history is the most significant risk factor for developing the early-onset form of the disease.
There are some signs of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease that younger people should be aware of. Memory loss and forgetfulness remain two of the primary symptoms of Alzheimer’s, particularly in the earlier stages. Planning and problem-solving also become more challenging for Alzheimer’s patients. Completing familiar tasks and identifying locations accurately will also be increasingly difficult. Other symptoms to keep an eye out for include vision loss, trouble finding the right words, misplacing items, difficulty making decisions, social withdrawal, and mood or personality changes.
Is there a cure for Alzheimer’s disease?
Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Seeking treatment as soon as you begin to notice symptoms is essential, especially for younger patients. There are a number of medications that can help reduce the presence of symptoms and even slow the progression of the disease. Results have been mixed, and every individual’s body chemistry is different, but many patients find that a combination of different treatments can help manage symptoms for years. Experts also recommend physical activity and cognitive training throughout all stages of life.
In the early stages of the disease, it’s important to plan for the future. Patients will need help managing their finances, working with their employers, and dealing with many types of paperwork and documentation. Keeping the mind and body as healthy as possible is also a good idea. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease should always strive to eat a healthy diet, reduce stress, and get regular exercise.
As you can see, Alzheimer’s disease is a complex condition that can present in different ways. Though it is most commonly seen in older adults, particularly those over the age of 85, Alzheimer’s can also present in patients as young as 30 or 40 years old. The disease progression is usually similar, though it begins at a much earlier age. Symptoms like memory loss and forgetfulness will likely appear first and worsen slowly over time. Though there isn’t a cure yet, early diagnosis and treatment can make a meaningful difference in a patient’s quality of life.