Alzheimer's blog

Early-onset Alzheimer's: There is help

By Angela Lunde February 12, 2008

Recently, there has been some discussion about early-onset Alzheimer's disease. Having early-onset Alzheimer's disease means that symptoms develop before the age of 65. Of all the people with Alzheimer's disease, only 5 percent to 10 percent develop symptoms before age 65.

Early-onset Alzheimer's has been known to develop between ages 30 and 40, but that's exceedingly rare. It is more common to see someone in their 50s who has the disease. I have had the opportunity to meet many individuals with early-onset Alzheimer's disease and their care partners. Their stories are different than those who have symptoms in their 70, 80 and 90's.

Often persons with early-onset Alzheimer's disease are actively in the work force at the time of their diagnosis, in fact, it is often 'on the job' where clues surface that something is wrong. Those impacted with early Alzheimer's disease and their care partners may experience financial challenges, changes in their relationship, as well as isolation from friends and activities. They may still have children living at home and face an uncertain future.

Yet, for those recently diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease, there is life after a diagnosis! With a diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's there is now some peace of mind in knowing the cause of the changes in thinking and performance.

There are medications that can slow the progression, information is available from groups such as the Alzheimer's Association (check out Safe Return) and there are support groups across the country for persons with the disease and their care partners.

Feb. 12, 2008