Who gets early onset Alzheimer’s?
People in their 40’s and 50’s report early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Newly analyzed data from the Health and Retirement Survey indicated that there may be as many as half a million American under age 65 who have dementia or a cognitive impairment at a level of severity consistent with dementia. Combining this with data from other studies, the Alzheimer’s Association calculates that there are between 220,000 and 640,000 people with early onset Alzheimer’s or related dementia in the U.S. today. Key findings of the study are:
- Getting a diagnosis for early-onset Alzheimer’s and dementia presents serious problems for individuals under the age of 65. Health care providers generally don’t look for the disease in younger patients and it can therefore be months or years before the right diagnosis is made and proper treatment can begin.
- Many people with early onset Alzheimer’s and other dementia are still working when their symptoms emerge. Due to the nature of the condition, changes in their job performance or behavior may not be understood or addressed. The workplace can become a difficult environment.
- Many who have early onset Alzheimer’s and other dementias do not apply for government disability payments under Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or other disability programs, either because they are not aware of available benefit programs or they are unaware that a person with dementia has a qualifying disability.
- People with early onset Alzheimer’s and other dementias who require long-term care services, face high out-of-pocket expenses that, depending upon their age and financial circumstances, may not be covered by Medicaid, Administration on Aging programs or other programs that pay for long-term care services for some people age 65 and over with dementia.
Problems confronted by people with early onset dementia and their families
- Difficulty in getting an accurate diagnosis
- Loss of employment and job-related income
- Difficulty obtaining Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income(SSI), and other disability payments
- Lack of Health insurance and high out-of-pocket expenses for medical care
- High out-of-pocket expense for long-term care
- Lack of appropriate medical care, residential care, and community services
Causes of Early onset?
Scientists have pinpointed several rare genes that directly cause early onset of Alzheimer’s. People who inherit these rare genes tend to develop symptoms in their 30s, 40s and 50s. When Alzheimer’s disease is caused by deterministic genes, it is called “familial Alzheimer’s disease,” and many family members in multiple generations are affected.
Can early diagnoses be done for early onset of Alzheimer’s?
Most health care professionals are not really looking for Alzheimer’s in younger patients, so getting an accurate diagnosis is hard. Many common symptoms may be incorrectly attributed to stress of daily life. As the disease affects everyone differently, the early onset cases might never be diagnosed until it is too late in the game.
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content courtesy: www.alz.org