Early onset Dementia, also known as Young onset Dementia is a term used to describe the deterioration of cognitive functioning, such as memory, language and judgement. Generally, dementia affects one in fourteen people over the age of 65. However, there is increasing prevalence in dementia starting in people under the age of 65.
While the disease is not prevalent in people under 65, there are cases of dementia being diagnosed in people in their early adult years. Due to the uncommon nature of the condition, young onset dementia can be difficult to diagnose, even when signs of early dementia are present (as the symptoms can sometimes manifest as different illnesses).
Diagnosis can be a long process because patients need to be monitored consistently and tested over time in order to confirm early dementia. The condition can be confused with other mental health issues such as depression, or with a physical condition such as a brain tumour. Early intervention and increasing awareness of the condition’s signs and symptoms is therefore key.
What are the symptoms of young (early onset) dementia?-
Symptoms of young onset dementia are serious and can have a profound effect on the sufferer and their friends and family. The sense of loss for people can be enormous.
Symptoms and signs of early dementia include:
- Memory problems, especially short term memory loss
- Poor judgment
- Experiencing difficulties with daily tasks
- Speech and language problems
- Erratic changes in mood, behaviour and personality
- Inability to concentrate
- Inappropriate interaction
- Disorientation in time, place and person
- Difficulties in recognition, understanding and comprehension
Decreased levels of self-esteem are especially prevalent in young dementia sufferers, which are usually linked to loss of income and independence.
Dementia is progressive and the brain becomes increasingly damaged over time therefore, the sufferer's symptoms will become worse.
The impact of early onset dementia-
- May be in work at time of diagnosis
- May have dependent children still living at home
- Likely to have financial commitments
- Likely to be physically fit and behave in ways that other people find challenging
- Be more aware of their disease in the early stages
- Find it hard to accept and cope with losing skills at such a young age
- Find it difficult to access information, support and services for younger people with dementia
- Severe emotional and physical strain on the family
How the Priory can help-
Priory believes, through compassionate and person-centred care programmes, that individuals with dementia can have an active, enjoyable and normal life that sustains their individuality and facilitates positive wellbeing. Working to NICE guidelines around care programmes, we have been helping individuals with young onset dementia for many years. We know that everyone's situation is different, which is why we ensure that everyone has a unique care plan tailored to their needs. The care plan looks to embrace the whole person; involving their family and friends to help them remain integrated and valued as the disease progresses.
Priory understands the importance of inpatient services in addressing crisis, arresting agitation and preventing any deterioration in a patient’s health and wellbeing. We use all evidence-based techniques to reduce agitation in dementia patients. We believe that our patients increase their health and wellbeing through positive engagement and individualised programmes of care. This includes sensory interventions, the use of music and engaging our patients in many different activities suited to the level of cognitive impairment that affects them. Our staff understand that no two dementia patients are the same. As standard, Priory’s dementia services include 24/7 emergency admissions and longer stay treatment units, and patients receive safe and personalised care from full-disciplinary teams dedicated to dementia wards with unique expertise in working with adults with young onset dementia.