Health

Dementia symptoms: The early warning sign that can show up before the age of 65

Although dementia mainly affects older patients, it can still affect younger people in some circumstances. To this end, there is a type of dementia known as young onset Alzheimer’s, the early onset of the most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease. This form of Alzheimer’s accounts for around 10 percent of cases or around three million patients under the age of 65. As with other forms of the disease, some early warning signs signal the presence of the disease.

Harvard University say patients with young onset Alzheimer’s tend to struggle with episodic memory.

Episodic memory is the ability of the brain to form new memories or recall recent experiences in their lives.

In contrast, Harvard University say patients with late onset Alzheimer’s disease “show the combination of changes in thinking and memory due to Alzheimer’s disease plus those changes that are part of normal ageing”.

While the idea of developing dementia at a young age can be anxiety inducing, it is important to remember it is very rare.

READ MORE: Cliff Richard: Star’s 3 tips for healthy ageing

According to Harvard: “One study in Norway found that young onset dementia occurred in 163 out of every 100,000 individuals, less than half a percent of the population.”

Subsequently, if someone under the age of 65 experiences problems with their memory, it is likely to be for a reason other than dementia.

Nevertheless, it is helpful to look out for the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s, if not in oneself, but in others.

Early symptoms include:
• Forgetting recent conversations or events
• Misplacing items
• Forgetting the names of places and objects
• Having trouble thinking of the right word
• Asking questions repetitively
• Showing poor judgement or finding it harder to make decisions
• Becoming less flexible and more hesitant to trying new things.

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The researchers found those who had surgery on cataracts had a 30 percent reduced risk of developing dementia in the 10 years after the operation.

Analysis of the data also found people with an issue with their sight had an increased risk of cognitive impairment and dementia.

Associate Professor Beibei Xu from the Medical Informatics Centre at Peking University said: “This study is among the first to evaluate the association between sight problems and cognitive outcomes in older adults through a comprehensive examination of all available population-based studies in English.

“Although the reasons behind this remain unclear, it suggests that diagnosing and treating eye conditions may be beneficial – both to improve a person’s quality of life and also to potentially slow down or stop memory loss.”

Professor Xu added: “Finding ways to prevent or delay the onset of dementia could help reduce its devastating impact on the lives of affected individuals and their families, especially in light of the growing burden of the disease.”

All of the research conducted is crucial, the more information scientists have on the disease, the more they can use to develop new treatments.

While a cure is far from a short-term possibility, researchers such as Dr Cara Croft believe they could become available within the next decade.

Although this means little for the patients of today, it could make all the difference for the patients of tomorrow.


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