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Early-onset dementia: Alzheimer’s disease could be one reason for the same

Study linked air pollution to increased risk of dementia © Shutterstock

Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia in younger people and may affect around a third of younger people with dementia.

Written by Debjani Arora |Published : August 9, 2018 2:44 PM IST

We think that a condition like dementia is a problem of the old and ailing, but even young people in their 40s and 50s can suffer from this condition. When dementia strikes early, that is, before the age of 60, it is termed as early on-set dementia. Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia in younger people and may affect around a third of younger people with dementia. However, this kind of Alzheimer's is different from what older people suffer from and is called atypical Alzheimer's disease. In atypical Alzheimer's (early on-set dementia) the first symptoms are not memory loss, instead, the first symptoms are usually problems with vision, speech or planning. Here are few symptoms of early onset dementia:

Difficulty in communication: Early symptoms of dementia manifest as an inability to communicate thoughts the right way. A person with dementia may have difficulty explaining something or finding the right words to express themselves. Conversations with people suffering from early-onset dementia can become very convulsed where the two parties find it difficult to reach a conclusion.

Mood swings: This seems to be common in all kinds of dementia with depression being a typical symptom of early dementia. However, there could also be a shift in personality where a shy person becomes outgoing and vice versa. This is because the condition often affects judgment.

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Lack of emotions: Early-onset dementia can make one disinterested in old hobbies and interests. They might also find it difficult to spend time with family and friends and keep to themselves; they develop a kind of apathy that is difficult to explain.

Inability to complete tasks: Early dementia can affect one's speed in delivering tasks. However, it happens when one has to handle complex tasks like dealing with finances or playing games that have too many rules. Along with the struggle to complete familiar tasks, they may struggle to learn how to do new things or follow new routines.

Clouded thoughts: Confusion is common among people who suffer from early onset dementia. They might find it difficult to remember names, find the right words to express themselves or even interact with people.

Difficulty following storylines or logical patterns: This is a classic early symptom. Just as finding and using the right words becomes difficult, people with dementia sometimes forget the meanings of words they hear or struggle to follow along with conversations and instructions.

Lack of direction: The sense of direction and spatial orientation commonly starts to deteriorate with the onset of dementia. This can mean not recognizing once-familiar landmarks and forgetting regularly used directions. It also becomes more difficult to follow a series of directions and step-by-step instructions.

Being repetitive: Early-onset dementia can make one ask the same question repeatedly and repeat the same tasks several times over the day.

Struggling to adapt: Since they start to get confused with names, things and places a kind of fear sets in that prohibits them from adapting to changes and they start preferring a routine over being experimental.

Short-term memory changes: In early onset dementia the changes in short-term memory are subtle like often forgetting car keys struggling to remember why they entered a particular room or forgetting what they were supposed to do on any given day. So, short-term memory loss could be a possible sign.

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