However, early onset dementia can develop and begin to show symptoms in affected people in their 40s and 50s.
Although there is still no cure for Alzheimer’s, the symptoms can be managed, and progress of the disease slowed, if it is detected in time.
The challenge is recognizing the warning sign signs of early onset dementia and then taking the right steps to manage it.
Early Onset Alzheimer’s Symptoms
There are several signs and symptoms to look out for that may indicate a case of early onset dementia.
Some of the most common symptoms, include:
- Mildly impaired memory
- Difficulty with problem solving
- Spatial orientation issues
- Trouble staying on task
- Misplacing items
- Language difficulties
- Changes in mood
- Inability to plan and adjust
Mild Memory Impairment
It is no secret that Alzheimer’s and dementia affect the memory. With early onset Alzheimer’s memory impairment might be quite subtle at first.
For example, the person may forget something they just heard or saw. Or they may ask you to repeat something, again and again.
At this stage, early onset dementia sufferers may rely heavily on notes or calendars for reminders about daily routines and important events.
Problem solving skills also tend to deteriorate with early onset Alzheimer’s. Critical thinking can become challenging because it requires working memory and decision making ability.
People with early onset Alzheimer’s often have an impairment in judgement along with affected memory.
Problems with spatial orientation is a very common issue for people with all stages of dementia.
In the early stages, people may become disoriented in routine situations. For instance, they may forget how to get to a friend’s house that lives just around the corner.
They may forget why they are in a certain room, or how they got there.
Spatial problems may even extend to difficulties judging the amount of space between objects.
Staying on Task
Staying focused on the task at hand is a common struggle in early onset Alzheimer’s.
This generally starts out with the inability to complete complex tasks that are normally routine. It could involve things like balancing finances, or preparing something for work.
“Now, where did I leave my car keys?”. Misplaced items are starting to occur more frequently, and the person is incapable of retracing their steps to figure out where the item was placed.
Another common symptom of early onset dementia is trouble with language. The inability to organize thoughts in a clear and concise way can make express oneself very challenging and frustrating.
Changes in Mood
Again, this often starts out slow but may become more pronounced over time.
It could begin with mild mood swings, which may appear random to an outside observer. These changes in mood are often due to fear and resentment, stemming from what is happening to them.
These feelings can lead to depression if not dealt with effectively.
Planning and Adjusting
Early onset Alzheimer’s affects not only memory, but also the ability to plan and adjust for the future.
Adjusting to unfamiliar circumstances can be strenuous because sometimes the person has no real context of the current situation. It is very difficult to adapt if you are unclear about what is happening or why.
Slowing the Progress of Early Onset Alzheimer’s
Many of the symptoms of early onset dementia are mild forms of the symptoms that will further develop as the illness progresses.
There are ways to manage these symptoms to delay the advancement of the disorder.
Some tips for dealing with early onset Alzheimer’s may be:
- Healthy diet
- Physical activity
- Mental stimulation
- Social interaction
- Quality sleep
Studies show that eating a diet heavy of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and quality fish and poultry can help prevent or slow the progression of dementia.
On the other hand, processed foods high in sugar, salt, and fat should be avoided as much as possible.
Regular exercise, in combination with a nutritious diet, can help boost the immune system and ward off disease.
Exercise stimulates better circulation, which increases blood flow to the brain.
It is extremely important for people dealing with early onset dementia to keep the brain active and sharp.
This can be done with word games or puzzles, as well as learning about a new subject, instrument, or language.
Social activity is also a good way to keep the mind engaged.
Social interaction is such an effective way to keep the brain working because it involves processing information you hear, and then taking that information to formulate a relevant and organized response.
The brain repairs itself during sleep, so as close you can get to 8 hours of quality sleep a day is highly recommended.