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Younger Onset Alzheimer’s disease – new research reiterates it is not just about memory loss

It is common to associate a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease with memory loss and while this is the case for many, new research has suggested that younger people (i.e. less than 65) with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease will more commonly have problems associated with judgement, language and/or visual and spatial awareness, rather than memory loss.

This result was published in the Journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia and suggests a need for a greater awareness of the different symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease. This is something that Alzheimer’s Australia and other dementia advocacy groups around the world are committed to doing.

The study, which was undertaken in the UK and led by researchers from the University College London, analysed data from 7815 people in the US National Alzheimer Coordinating Centre database. Each participant had a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, and a record had been made of the symptoms they had first noticed in the early stages of the disease. The average age of the group was 75, with the youngest person aged 36 and the oldest aged 110.

The results found that younger people with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease more commonly displayed non-memory cognitive impairments (i.e. judgement, language, etc.), however the results also showed that the odds of depression and behavioural symptoms also increased with younger age. In comparison the odds of having psychosis (confused thinking) but no behavioural symptoms increased with older age.

CEO of Alzheimer’s Australia, Carol Bennett said that these results once again reiterate that younger people with a diagnosis of dementia have specific requirements.

“This is why it is of vital importance that programs like Alzheimer’s Australia’s Younger Onset Dementia Key Worker Program, which provides individualised services and support to improve the quality of life for people with younger onset dementia, continue to be funded.”

If you’d like more information on the Alzheimer’s Australia Younger Onset Dementia Key Worker Program please click here.

For more information about the symptoms of dementia please read our vast array of help sheets.

Our National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500 call centre staff are also available for advice during business hours Monday to Friday to give counselling and advice on anything relating to dementia.

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