Early onset Alzheimer’s and dementia affects people younger than the age of 65. Although much more rare, it now affects as many as 40,000 younger people in the UK.
The two most common forms of dementia in younger people are Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.
Around one-third of younger people with dementia have Alzheimer’s disease. Some people will have a history of young-onset Alzheimer’s in their family. Around 20% of younger people with dementia have vascular dementia.
A diagnosis of dementia is devastating at any age but a diagnosis at a young age can be truly terrifying for the person and their loved ones. This is primarily due to the stage people will be at in their lives and what is going on around them. For example, younger people with dementia are more likely to still be at work themselves, have a partner who is still working, have dependent children, have ageing parents who they need to care for and have heavy financial commitments such as a mortgage.
There is very little understanding of the needs of people who develop dementia at an early age and this can make it very difficult for younger people to access adequate support. A service set up for people of a different generation is highly unlikely to meet the needs of younger people and so; these people often require specialist services.
The number of specialist services is growing and there is increasingly more help out there.
The Alzheimer’s Society can put younger people with dementia, their families or carers in contact with others in their local areas, or in similar circumstances. They also host an online discussion group called Talking Point, which has a dedicated group for younger people. To join the discussion, go to http://forum.alzheimers.org.uk/