According to Alzheimer’s Society, there are approximately 42,000 people in the UK with a form of young onset dementia, where ‘young’ means between the ages of 30 and 65. For those people, the effects of dementia can be even more devastating as many in this age bracket still struggle to balance work and maintain mortgage payments, care for dependents in their family and have other financial commitments to manage while coming to terms with the challenges they face with the condition.
The Alzheimer’s Show (which returns to Olympia London on 9-10 June and Manchester EventCity on 23-24 June) is keen to highlight that young people can develop dementia. This year, YoungDementia UK will be at The Alzheimer’s Show, ready to help anyone affected by young onset symptoms. YoungDementia UK intends to create a community of people with an interest in young onset and connect them to share experiences, knowledge and to raise awareness of young onset dementia. It also intends to encourage people to join its Young Dementia Network. “This is the first time we have exhibited at The Alzheimer’s Show and we’re very excited to be part of it,” says Kate Fallows, Communications Coordinator from YoungDementia UK. “We are delighted to see that many of the speakers are people living with young onset dementia. We believe the show will provide a fantastic platform to raise awareness of the condition. It is also a great opportunity for us to connect with a wider audience of people who have an interest in dementia and to promote membership of the YoungDementia Network.”
“Dementia can and does affect people at a younger age,” adds Kate. “The first symptoms in younger people can be problems with language, vision, behaviour or personality, rather than memory issues. These symptoms might be caused by things like stress, anxiety, depression, or menopause but the possibility that dementia could be the cause should not be overlooked, just because of age. We advise anyone who has any cause for concern, to make an appointment to see their doctor and discuss it with them as soon as possible.”
Awareness of the condition in younger people among GPs can be low. “One of the main challenges younger people with symptoms face is that awareness of the disease in people under 60 can be low among GPs: we have heard from many people whose diagnosis was delayed and their symptoms put down to something else, usually depression or stress,” says Christina Macdonald, Online Editor for The Alzheimer’s Show and author of the book, Dementia Care: A Guide. “Currently, it’s thought around 5% of people with dementia are aged 30-65 but the true percentage could be as much as 6%-9% of those living with a diagnosis.”
“While forgetting things from time to time is perfectly normal and may not mean you could have dementia, it’s important to recognise that the disease does affect younger people and anyone worried should see their GP,” says Christina. “Early diagnosis of the disease is important to access the right medications to help manage the symptoms of the disease more effectively.”
What are the key symptoms to watch out for?
- Problems with short-term memory
- Difficulty recalling particularly recent events (short-term memory is affected more than long-term memory in the earlier stages of the disease)
- Not following a story
- Reading something and not being able to remember the first part of it when you get towards the end.
- Conversation problems
- Not being able to follow a conversation and fully understand what the other person is saying.
- Planning and calculation issues
- Difficulties with calculation and doing financial planning.
- Problems with recalling words
- Difficulty remembering specific words.
- Getting lost
- Difficulty finding their way around, especially in familiar environments.
- Not responding to prompts
- Difficulty recalling recent events despite prompts from others about an event such as when the person went somewhere, what they did or with whom they did it
- Repeating things frequently
- Repeating the same questions or information to the same person 20 minutes after saying them before and having no idea they said the same thing earlier
While we all forget things from time to time, it’s important not to panic or confuse these symptoms with being distracted and trying to do too many things at once. Going upstairs and forgetting why you went there because you were distracted and thinking about something else is perfectly normal. You may remember ten minutes later why you went upstairs. But if later you have no recollection of what you were going to do upstairs, this could be a symptom of dementia.
Finding help The Alzheimer’s Show is the UK’s leading event in dementia care and offers help and hope to carers, families and those living with dementia as well as healthcare professionals providing care for those affected. The two-day event takes place at Olympia London on 9-10 June and EventCity Manchester on 23-24 June and features products and services to help those living with dementia, as well as expert advice and support all under one roof. Tickets for both events booked in advance cost £15 each (£10 concession). On the door tickets cost £20 each (£15 concession). To obtain tickets, visit https://alzheimersshow.co.uk/tickets/
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