Approximately 5% of Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s are affected by early onset of the disease. It occurs in individuals aged below 65 years, and could affect people as young as 30. According to Mary Sano, director of Alzheimer’s disease at Mt.Sinai School of Medicine, the symptoms of early onset Alzheimer are difficult to recognize since the condition is very rare in adults under 65.
The major cause of early onset Alzheimer is genetics. You are at a higher risk of suffering from the disease if a family member has Alzheimer. The condition is linked to the three genes, APP, PSEN1 or PSEN2 that differ from the APOE gene due to mutation. In this case it is known as familial Alzheimer’s disease. Though there are myths that early-onset is caused by Aluminum, Silver and flu shots, these have no scientific evidence and neurologists focus their research more on finding a cure based on genetics.
Since it destroys brain cells, causes memory loss erratic behaviors and loss of bodily functions, Alzheimer is fatal. Misdiagnosis may be more likely since early symptoms are similar to those of temporary stress and depression. The condition is thought to progress faster than traditional Alzheimer. Yet, Alzheimer progresses at different rates depending on a variety of factors. According to John Hart, MD a professor of neurology at the University of Texas , keeping diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol under control may slow down the rate of progression of early onset Alzheimer.
Since it affects those in middle age, adequate support systems need to put in place as these are the productive years of the patients. There is no cure yet for either the traditional or early onset Alzheimer but there are drugs that work temporarily by improving symptoms of memory loss and cognitive problems.
Here are the early-onset symptoms to look for:
1. Language and mild coordination problems
Early onset Alzheimer patients have problems communicating coherently. This is because they have challenges putting their thoughts into words or understanding others. Finding the right words to describe objects or ideas becomes increasingly hard. This causes problems in following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. In later stages, they experience coordination problems and lose control of their urine and bowel movement.
2. Memory loss that disrupts everyday life
Sufferers of the condition may have an especially hard time remembering newly learned information and repeatedly ask the same question. They sometimes rely on memory aides such as reminder notes. Important events and appointments such as where they went to school or when they got married are sometimes forgotten. They may remember the appointments later. They also forget their friends and family and mistake them for strangers. Alternatively, they mistake strangers for family and friends thus they may need to always have a person looking out for them.