Learning More About Dementia in Young People
Dementia is most often seen as a disease that only affects older people. However, this simply isn't the case and in fact, symptoms of dementia can affect people of all ages.
People can be shocked to learn that early-onset dementia can develop in young people. There seems to be a low level of awareness surrounding the diagnosis of younger people of working age especially as the current dementia figures and statistics don't really reflect the number of younger people affected.
What is young-onset dementia?
Doctors tag the symptoms of dementia in younger people as 'young-onset' dementia. This term is applied when it affects those of working age, usually those falling in the 30 – 65 year age bracket.
Other names this condition goes by are: ‘early onset’ or ‘working-age’ dementia.
Dementia affects the brain and will cause a progressive decline in sufferers cognitive functions. Symptoms of dementia presenting in younger people are exactly the same as what we see in older people in general.
What are the symptoms of young-onset dementia?
What is most commonly seen with dementia in younger people is that they start to struggle with their thought processes. They will find it difficult to remember things, they will have difficulty communicating what they want to say and they can find it hard to reason with people.
As with older sufferers, a younger person can start to feel frustrated with themselves and their inability to make themselves understood or forgetting to perform tasks, or how to do things.
These frustrations can affect the sufferer's personality and behaviour. They can go from being a confident and outgoing person to becoming hesitant, withdrawn and moody.
This isn't always the case with everyone though. Each person's experience of dementia is very unique to them so some sufferers may carry on performing certain tasks very well where others may struggle.
Figures for young onset dementia in the UK
According to research conducted by Young Dementia UK, there are an estimated 42,325 people in the UK who have been diagnosed with young-onset dementia.
This represents at least around 5% of the 850,000 people known to suffer from dementia. Although the actual figures for young-onset dementia are estimated to be much higher due to the difficulties with the process of diagnosing younger people.
The reasons why there could be more young people suffering from early-onset dementia than we realise is down to many UK GPs misdiagnosing symptoms for something else, such as high-stress levels from work or lifestyle, anxiety or depression.
Undiagnosed younger dementia sufferers
Dementia specialists believe that there are a lot of undiagnosed younger people falling through the net because a lot of young people can be very reluctant to admit they are having problems.
A lot of younger people of working age are busy with families and jobs so will often ignore symptoms, especially if they are feeling physically well and don't need to visit their GP very often.
Young people from BAME backgrounds have a higher prevalence for developing young-onset dementia, yet are less likely to seek out help or receive a diagnosis.