Did you know dementia can affect younger people too

Dementia can affect those under 65 and the condition is called Early Onset Dementia.

Dementia can affect those under 65 and the condition is called Early Onset Dementia. - Credit: DEMENTIA UK

Dementia is often associated with old age – but changes in behaviour in young people could be early warning signs of the condition. 

According to Dementia UK,Young Onset Dementia (YOD) is defined as dementia diagnosed under the age of 65 and it is estimated that there are 42,000 people with YOD in the UK. 

Early symptoms may not always be recognised, and can be attributed to other causes including depression, stress and physical health problems. 

Charity Dementia UK say this can then lead to “a significant delay of, on average, four years in getting an accurate diagnosis, and appropriate post diagnosis support”.  

The negative impact caused by this can impact entire families and lead to further anxiety in facing medical tests. 

Particular issues faced by younger people with dementia in comparison with older people are: 

  • They are more likely to have a rarer form of dementia affecting behaviour and social functioning 

  • Family members are more likely to report significantly higher psychological and physical distress 

  • They may have heavy financial commitments such as a mortgage, children or elderly parents to care for. 

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The early symptoms of young onset dementia can differ depending on the type of dementia and which parts of the brain it affects.  

Dementias affecting the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain are more common in younger people so it is more likely that the early symptoms may include changes in: 

  • Personality 

  • Behaviour 

  • Social functioning 

  • Mood e.g., depression, anxiety 

  • Concentration levels 

  • Decision making and problem solving 

The charity said: “Generally, people think dementia is having a poor memory and being older, so a younger person may attribute symptoms to other life events.  

“In addition, the person may not recognise the changes in themselves and so can be resistive to seeking help or support.” 

Only about 34 per cent of dementias diagnosed in younger people are Alzheimer’s type in comparison to about 60 per cent in the older age group. 

Early recognition and timely accurate diagnosis of dementia, combined with appropriate specialist support, can reduce the distress experienced by the whole family. 

Visit www.dementiauk.org for help, support and more information.