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5 Warning Signs of Early Onset Dementia

Warning Signs of Early Onset Dementia

Most think of older people when they think of dementia. Unfortunately, dementia can develop in people of any age, including younger people. Early onset dementia, also known as young onset dementia, is a type of dementia that occurs in people who are 65 years of age or younger. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, many people with this type of dementia receive a diagnosis in their 40s and 50s.

As is the case with any other form of dementia, the earlier someone can receive treatment for this type of dementia, the better. Here are 5 warning signs to be on the lookout for.

Common Symptoms of Young Onset Dementia

Early diagnosis of dementia is key to receiving more effective treatment. Early symptoms of dementia, including early onset, include the following.

1. Disorientation and Memory Problems

Memory loss and difficulty completing familiar tasks are hallmark symptoms of dementia. It goes beyond simply being forgetful. After all, forgetting recently learned information, such as important dates and events, is normal for most people. Most people, however, often remember these at a later date. What is not normal is disorientation or memory problems so severe that remembering even the easiest of dates and tasks is difficult. The information just completely escapes and never returns.

Specific examples of this symptom include, but are not limited to, the following:

2. Planning and Problem-Solving Difficulties

Another early warning sign of early onset dementia is declining decision-making capabilities, to the point that daily life becomes difficult to navigate without the aid of a carer.

Specific examples of this symptom include:

  • Difficulty sticking to plans, as people with early onset Alzheimer’s disease may have a sudden change in logic over a particular task
  • Erratic financial decisions, such as overspending due to duplicate purchases
  • Overfeeding or underfeeding animals due to forgetting about feeding times
  • Not being able to work a steady job due to inability to solve simple issues

3. Visual and Spatial Impairment

For some people, one of the early signs of early onset dementia is decline in vision. This decline can affect the ability to read, determine color or contrast, and judge distance. This impairment will affect a dementia patient’s ability to drive, walk unimpaired, and perform other basic daily tasks, even with the help of a caregiver.

People who develop dementia during the most productive stages of their life will find multiple problems with the tasks expected from them daily. This difficulty may develop into adjacent medical and psychological issues, such as depression, which can further factor into cognitive impairment.

Specific examples of this symptom include:

  • Difficulty reading
  • Not recognizing family members’ faces
  • Being unable to walk down staircases

4. Personality Changes

A sudden change in attitude, behavior, and personality can all indicate that something is seriously wrong. People living with dementia may suddenly switch between being anxious, happy, fearful, angry, sad, and paranoid.

For example, a man with dementia may be carrying on a laughter-filled conversion with his daughter, only to suddenly accuse her of stealing from him.

5. Social Isolation

Social withdrawal is quite common in people living with early, untreated dementia.

People may become aware of their other early-stage symptoms, like confusion, disorientation, or struggling to find the right word during conversations. Because of this awareness and the frustration associated with these issues, some begin to withdraw from social events.

Final Thoughts

Recognizing the early signs of dementia, especially young onset dementia, means an early diagnosis. It’s always better to receive a diagnosis sooner as it leads to earlier treatment, which in turn means having a better chance of slowing disease progression.

If you have a suspicion that you or a loved one is displaying warning signs of early-onset dementia, it’s vital to contact a healthcare professional and book an appointment for a full evaluation as soon as possible.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It cannot be used to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition. Please consult a licensed medical provider if you have suspicions of yourself or a loved one showing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia.

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