Signs of early onset dementia include:
- Personality and mood changes
- Increasing confusion
- Forgetting things
- Misplacing items
- Losing track of the date, time, or year
- Language problems, such as difficulty finding the right words
- Disorientation and poor judgement
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks
- Misplacing items
- Loss of sense of smell
What causes early onset dementia?
Although the exact trigger of the disease is unknown, research has shown that damage to the nerve cells may be caused by proteins in the brain:
- Beta-amyloid protein, which forms plaques over the neural tissue and damages memory cells in the brain
- Tau protein, which forms tangles and kills the neurons
Although these plaques and tangles occur in almost all people as they age, people with Alzheimer’s disease develop many more, leading to damage in the memory areas of the brain.
While in most cases the disease is sporadic, meaning it can occur without predisposing factors, it is also seen in people with a family history of Alzheimer’s disease.
How is early onset dementia and Alzheimer’s diagnosed?
Many people with early onset dementia face difficulty with getting an accurate or timely diagnosis, as well as increased medical costs and lack of proper medical care. This is because early onset dementia is uncommon and symptoms are often misinterpreted, leading to delays in diagnosis and untreated disease progression.
In general, diagnosis is made by examining:
- Family history
- Duration of presenting complaints of dementia
- Cognitive tests to assess memory, problem-solving, or other mental skills
- Blood tests and urine tests to assess whether there are abnormal protein levels in the body
- Computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to assess the extent of tissue damage in the brain
What treatment options are available for early onset dementia?
Treatment options include medications to slow down nerve tissue damage, including:
Currently, there is no cure for dementia, although research is underway to find more effective treatment options to slow down the progression of the disease.
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