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When Early-Onset Alzheimer's Strikes

According to experts at the Mayo Clinicearly-onset Alzheimer’s disease is a rare form of dementia that strikes people under the age of 65. Because it is uncommon, early-onset Alzheimer’s is also more likely to go undiagnosed or be misdiagnosed. Therefore, it is highly important to be familiar with the disease, particularly if you or a loved one are beginning to show symptoms of memory loss

What to Know About Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease

Today about 5 percent of all individuals with Alzheimer’s have the early-onset form of the disease, accounting for approximately 200,000 people. Most develop symptoms of Alzheimer’s in their 40s and 50s. For most of those with early-onset Alzheimer’s, the cause of the disease is not clear. However, some people with early-onset Alzheimer’s have a form called "familial Alzheimer's disease," and they typically have a parent or grandparent who also developed Alzheimer's disease at an earlier age.

Says Janet McNemar, NHA, MBA, Administrator at Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr, located in Bryn Mawr, PA, “An accurate diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's by a physician is essential to start the most appropriate form of treatment immediately. It is also important to family members so they can provide needed support and compassion and also assist with critical legal and financial decisions that will have to be made.

In addition, a timely diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s gives everyone more time to prepare for the future and to cope.”

Helpful Coping Strategies for Early-Onset Alzheimer’s

Mayo Clinic specialist Jonathan Graff-Radford, M.D., says, “People with early-onset Alzheimer's disease may face some unique challenges. They may face stigmas and stereotypes about the disease. Due to their young age, people may not believe they have the disease or question the diagnosis.

“People with early-onset Alzheimer's may lose relationships or jobs instead as a consequence of this misunderstanding rather than being identified as medically ill or disabled. They may also face a loss of income from being diagnosed while still working.”

Therefore, try these coping tips that can help you adjust and make your life easier.

For You and Your Spouse:

  • Talk about the changes you're experiencing with early-onset Alzheimer’s, the ways your needs have changed and the kind of help you need from each other. 
  • Continue with as many activities as possible that you currently enjoy or find new activities you can enjoy together.
  • Locate a counselor who works with couples facing issues similar to yours, such as changing roles in the relationship and sexuality.

For Children:

  • Continue with activities you have enjoyed together for as long as possible.
  • Stay engaged with your children and talk with them honestly about what you're experiencing.
  • Make your child's school counselor and social worker aware of your condition and invite your children to some of your counseling sessions if age appropriate.
  • Keep a record of your experiences, love and advice for your children that they will appreciate later on.

For Work:

  • Find out if you can move to a position that better fits your limitations resulting from early-onset Alzheimer’s.
  • Familiarize yourself with your benefits, and find out whether an employee assistance program is available.
  • Determine what benefits you might qualify for under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act and COBRA.

For Your Financial Future:

  • Meet with an attorney and a financial planner to discuss your rights and to plan for your future financial needs.
  • Identify all benefits you may quality for under Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.
  • Take stock of all of your legal and financial documents and be sure your spouse is knowledgeable about them and can manage them going forward.

Janet adds, “In addition to following these expert tips for early-onset Alzheimer's disease, we also recommend that you take full advantage of the useful resources found in the Programs and Support section of the Alzheimer’s Association website.”

We also encourage you to contact us with any questions you have on dementia care or to schedule a tour. Also, we invite you to read our timely blog articles on current caregiver and dementia care topics posted on our website.

We Would Love to Hear from You!

If you have comments or questions about our blog, “When Early-Onset Alzheimer's Strikes,” we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences in our comments section.

Engaging Days. Meaningful Moments.

Loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or other memory impairments require specialized care and support. They also deserve a lifestyle rich in dignity and fulfillment. Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr provides residents with Engaging Days and Meaningful Moments that emphasize individual abilities, encourage socialization and promote the highest level of independence possible. We offer a complete continuum of leading-edge programs, services and amenities that address the total physical, emotional and social needs of residents in a caring setting that offers individual suites with large private baths and the comfort of home. Our memory care community touches hearts and changes lives.

Helping Families Be “Family” Again.

Memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or another form of memory impairment doesn’t only affect the person who has it – it affects the entire family.

 If you have a loved one with early- to mid-stage memory loss, you know how challenging it can be to provide the care that’s needed while trying to maintain balance in your life. As care needs increase, you may not be able to meet them physically or emotionally. It’s often difficult to be available to care for your loved one’s health and well-being around the clock.

 If and when the time comes to seek additional help, place your trust in Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr. We lift the stresses and worries of being a caregiver from your shoulders, enabling you and your family to enjoy time with your loved one again. 

For more information, please call Janet at 610.525.8300 or contact us online. 

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.