Typically, we think of those who struggle with dementia as someone who is at least 65 years old or older; however, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, this is an “artificial cut-off point” and does not include the growing number of people who begin to show signs of dementia in their 30s and 40s. The signs of dementia in this younger age group are virtually identical to those evident in the 65 years and older population. It is important to be aware of the signs of dementia even in your 30s and 40s so that you can receive an accurate diagnosis of the issues you may be facing.
As most of us realize, the number one symptom of dementia is signified as memory loss, usually identified by a close family member. Typically, long term memory, such as childhood events or major life events, remains intact, while the more recent short term happenings tend to be lost. Additionally, struggle for correct language can be an issue along with reasoning or problem-solving issues. Complex tasks that once seemed manageable are now overwhelming and can cause an individual to sit still for long periods of time considering how to accomplish the task at hand. These cognitive tasks become especially evident when planning or organizing meals or ordinary household responsibilities. Additionally, those who struggle with dementia will display behavior associated with confusion or disorientation when it comes to completion of these normal duties.
Psychologically, you might notice a change in personality with someone who struggles with dementia. These symptoms may present themselves in the form of increased level of anxiety or agitation and in extreme cases, paranoia. Most dementia patients struggle with depression and some even begin to exhibit inappropriate behavior or describe hallucinations in vivid detail.
Again, accurate diagnosis is key especially with individuals who are still in their 30s and 40s. Many times healthcare professionals attribute the signs of dementia to stress. Therefore, if symptoms do not improve, know that additional cognitive or neurological testing may be necessary to effectively treat dementia patients.