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Does Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Affect You?

You may feel like you are experiencing early dementia, but it may be something else altogether. Of the 5.3 million Americans with Alzheimer’s Disease, approximately 200,000 are under the age of 65. Known as Early-Onset Alzheimer’s, the disease typically strikes people in their fifties and can be as early as their thirties and forties.

Discover the Root Cause

You will want to investigate and eliminate common causes of cognitive problems in younger people, such as stress, depression, hormonal imbalances, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies, before suspecting Early Onset Alzheimer’s. Data published by Blue Cross Blue Shield suggests that approximately 40 out of 10,000, or .4% of Americans aged 30-64, are diagnosed with dementia. Conversely, Early-Onset Alzheimer’s medical providers often misdiagnose EOA because it is rare and progresses gradually. Patients and their loved ones often downplay symptoms out of fear.

Only doctors of patients with a family history of Early Onset Alzheimer’s are likely to suspect EOA as a cause for cognitive decline. In fact, having a parent or sibling with EOA significantly increases the likelihood of developing it. Researchers believe this suggests a strong genetic link to the disease.

What to Do if You Suspect EOA?

Numbers are of small comfort when you are experiencing confusion, memory loss, and other symptoms of dementia. You, your spouse, or colleagues may notice that routine tasks are more difficult, take longer, and include more errors. First, remember not to assume these performance changes alone indicate Alzheimer’s. Many people with long COVID and concussions experience similar symptoms, usually healing and returning to full functionality rather than continuing to decline.

If you see symptoms in yourself, start a diary of what you notice and make an appointment with your doctor. They will probably run some cognitive tests, take blood samples for lab work, ask for family history, and refer you to a specialist if warranted. If they have reason to suspect EOA, they may do a PET scan or draw cerebrospinal fluid to confirm or rule out an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

An EOA diagnosis is usually devastating to patients and their families. People in this age category are less likely to have retired and rely on their job for daily expenses. They are also more likely to have dependents. They will need to start planning how long they should work and in what capacity. Spouses need to consider their ability to be caregivers and work. Medical care and daily care can eat through assets quickly. Everyone will likely mourn the loss of dreams of growing old together.

No matter what the final prognosis ends up being, knowing what to expect for the future will help you make the best decisions for care. You will have time to process the information and let others know how they can best support you. You may need to let your employer know so they can adjust your work accordingly. Estate planning and elder law attorneys can guide you through Social Security Disability, long-term care, and advanced medical directives. You can prepare to determine how to pay for healthcare services, qualify for government assistance, and talk to your family about treatment preferences, level of care, and end-of-life decisions. If you need assistance in any area of elder law, contact us at (321) 729-0087.

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