Written by Active Minds on Monday the 18th of January 2016.
Since Alzheimer’s and dementia are often associated with older people, it can come as even more of a shock when someone below the age of 65 is diagnosed with either condition. If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with young-onset dementia or you’re worried a loved one might be at risk, here is some information you might find helpful.
Recognising dementia in younger people can often be difficult. The condition is unexpected and symptoms are often put down to work stress or the normal aging process. If you suspect yourself or a loved one might be experiencing the early stages of dementia, it’s important you seek professional help and a diagnosis right away.
Younger people with dementia can often have a hard time finding the necessary care and support. This can be down to the fact that services are often tailored specifically to the needs of older people, or because there is still a widespread lack of understanding of young-onset dementia. Make sure to get in touch with charities such as Alzheimer’s Society, who will be able to point you towards specialists and specialist services in your area.
One of the hardest aspects of young-onset dementia is that both the person with the condition and their partner are very often still in work at the time of diagnosis. Living with the condition does not necessarily mean you have to give up working straight away but early retirement is often something people with young-onset dementia have to experience. Try speaking to a disability advisor to look at how you and your carer can get help to cope with working life.
People living with young-onset dementia are also more likely to have children who are still dependent on them. The condition can be hard for children to comprehend so take a look at our previous blog post on Talking to Children about Dementia for tips on the best way to help them understand.
A huge part of living with dementia is making sure you don’t withdraw from everyday life both physically and socially. Unfortunately for people with young-onset dementia, many dementia support and activity groups are tailored specifically to older people with reduced physical capabilities. While some therapies – such as reminiscence activities – can still be helpful for younger people with dementia, it’s helpful for carers and family members to encourage their loved one to keep up favoured hobbies, interests, and physical activities to make sure everyday skills are not lost.