Dementia is usually always thought of as a health concern only for the elderly, however for some people, a dementia diagnosis can come earlier. This is known as early-onset dementia, when the loss of memory and cognitive abilities occur at a younger age. “The majority of cases of dementia in the United States are in people over 65, and 50 percent are in people over 85 years old but … we’ve seen patients who have the disease at 35,” says Raj C. Shah, MD, medical director of the Rush Memory Center. Unfortunately, there are many complications that come with early-onset dementia that do not arise in later years. Here are some of those complications to be aware of:
• Difficult Dementia Diagnosis: At the middle of someone’s life, dementia doesn’t tend to be a doctor’s first conclusion when a person starts to lose cognitive function. This means that it can take a while to arrive at a correct diagnosis. However, while this diagnosis is taking place, symptoms of dementia can wreak havoc on personal relationships or work obligations.
• Family: Early-onset dementia can sadly interrupt family life as adults who are middle aged may still be raising children, supporting their children in college and even caring for their own aging parents.
• Employment: Dementia treatment tries to focus on helping patients stay as long as possible in the working world. However, patients will have to work with their employers to adjust workloads or tasks to suit their abilities.
• Finances: The burden of early onset dementia combined with the unfortunate possibility of loss of employment can cripple a family’s financial situation.
• Qualifying for services: Many services and funding programs for dementia are only available for people over age 65, which means patients with early onset dementia and their families have to work harder to get the support that they need.
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