Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 18 March 2021
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What Is Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease?
Early-onset Alzheimer's disease is a form of brain disease that strikes individuals before they reach the age of 65. It typically expresses itself in the 40s and 50s. People as young as their 30s have been known to develop it.
The diagnosis is normally unexpected, and that ensures you'll need to prepare now for major adjustments so you'll be safe and get the treatment you require later.
You'll need a good support system because Alzheimer's disease robs you of your memories, your ability to reason properly, and, eventually, your capacity to provide for yourself. To begin developing a roadmap for the rest of your life, turn to relatives, colleagues, local support networks, and community groups.
Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease Symptoms
Early-onset Alzheimer's disorder shows much of the same symptoms as late-onset Alzheimer's disease. It begins with minor memory lapses and brain function issues that worsen until they impair your capacity to handle your everyday life.
Changes to keep an eye on include:
- Forgetfulness, like misplacing items, losing track of what day it is, or asking the same questions over and over
- Difficulty recalling certain words or using the wrong word or phrases
- Difficulty with visual processing, like understanding what you read or judging distance
- Inability to do complex but familiar tasks, like following a recipe or personal banking
- Difficulty with your normal work or household activities
- Getting lost
- Poor judgment
- Mood and personality changes
- Physical problems with talking, swallowing or walking
Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease Causes
Alzheimer's disease is triggered by the aggregation of two proteins in the brain named amyloid and tau. An excess of these proteins affects normal brain functioning.
Scientists also have a lot to say about why the illness manifests itself early in certain patients. It can run in families in certain instances and can be induced by differences in genes passed down by your parents.
Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnosis
There is no single examination that will determine whether or not you have early-onset Alzheimer's. However, there are many ways for the doctor to assess whether you have it.
They'll start by asking you about your past background, as well as any current symptoms. You'll also take tests to assess your memory and problem-solving skills.
Imaging scans can be used to look for differences in the brain to rule out any possible causes of your symptoms. A CT scan, a strong X-ray that produces precise images within the body, might be one of them. You may also get an MRI, which creates pictures using magnets and radio waves. PET scans utilize tracers such as flortaucipir (Tauvid) to map the brain and detect proteins attributed to Alzheimer's disease.
The doctor can also recommend genetic screening to look for variations in genes linked to Alzheimer's disease.
How Do I Treat Early-Onset Alzheimer's?
Staying as optimistic as possible is a vital aspect of treating the illness. Maintain your involvement in the things you already love. Look at various relaxation techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing.
Maintain your personal health as well. Make sure you eat right and exercise on a daily basis.
Some early-onset Alzheimer's symptoms may be reduced with treatment. Your doctor can recommend one or more of the following medications to help with memory loss:
- Donepezil (Aricept)
- Galantamine (Razadyne)
- Memantine (Namenda)
- Memantine-donepezil (Namzaric)
- Rivastigmine (Exelon)
For a few months or a few years, these medications will help you delay or improve your symptoms. They can enable you to live independently for longer periods of time.
Such symptoms associated with Alzheimer's disease, such as insomnia, night terrors, and paranoia, can be treated with sleeping medication, medications, or tranquilizers, according to the doctor.
Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease Preparation
You should start making preparations now that will certainly be useful later. Meet with a lawyer, for example, to learn about the plans you’ll need. When you give others “power of attorney," they will make health and financial choices for you when you can no longer do it on your own.
It’s, therefore, a good idea to consider if you’ll pay any of your potential medical expenses. Try getting support from a competent caregiver or investing in the safety equipment you’ll need at home. Gather your relatives to discuss your finances and how much funds you’ll need to get proper treatment.
It’s also a good idea to start putting together your team. There would be a diverse group of people on it. Relatives, colleagues, neighbors, and health care providers also play a part. Your family and doctor will assist you in creating a team.
The most important thing is to find out what you want, make a specific, achievable plan, and inform others around you.
Referenced on 2.3.2021:
- Alzheimer's Association: “10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer's," “Alzheimer's changes the whole brain," “Diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia," “Down Syndrome and Alzheimer's Disease," “If you have younger-onset Alzheimer's," “Risk Factors," “The Search for Alzheimer’s Causes and Risk Factors," “Treatments for Alzheimer's Disease," “Treatments for Sleep Disturbances," “Younger/Early Onset Alzheimer's & Dementia."
- Cleveland Clinic: “Living with early-onset."
- Keith N. Fargo, PhD, Alzheimer's Association, Chicago.
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Early-Onset Alzheimer's Disease."
- Richard Lipton, MD, Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York City.
- National Institute on Aging: “About Alzheimer's Disease: Causes," “Alzheimer's Disease: Unraveling the Mystery."
- American Academy of Family Physicians: “Early-Onset Alzheimer’s.”