When we think of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, we usually think of forgetfulness, misplacing things, or personality changes as common signs that something is wrong with our loved ones and ourselves. But what if I told you that these symptoms could begin in your 20s or 30s? If you knew the risk factors for Alzheimer’s and dementia, could you protect yourself? And if you are under the age of 65 and are experiencing early onset dementia or Alzheimer’s symptoms, how do you get help?
How Old Do You Feel?
You might be surprised to know that, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, people in their 30s and 40s can get early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, 1 in 10 people with the disease develop symptoms before age 65.
Experts say early-onset Alzheimer’s occurs as a result of having certain genes, like apolipoprotein E. About one in five people with early-onset Alzheimer’s have an apolipoprotein E4 gene. People with two copies of an APOE4 gene are especially at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease by age 65. In other words, your genes don’t doom you to develop this debilitating disease, but they do make it more likely. Early-onset dementia can also be caused by brain injuries or traumatic events like concussions. If you experience symptoms that last longer than 24 hours after a head injury—like confusion, memory loss or sleep problems—you should go to a doctor right away.
Why We Don’t Talk About Younger People Having Dementia
Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are usually thought of as diseases that only affect older people. But what if I told you that there are actually many younger people living with these conditions?
In fact, it’s estimated that one in every three seniors over 65 years old have some form of dementia. That number drops to one in ten for those between 75 and 84 years old. For younger people, however, only about five percent are affected by these conditions. But why do we have such a skewed view when it comes to younger people having Alzheimer’s or dementia? The answer is simple—our culture makes it all too easy to sweep these issues under the rug because they don’t affect us personally, even though they should be recognised as a significant public health concern.
Who Gets Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging. The vast majority of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older. But, approximately 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 have younger-onset Alzheimer’s.
Dementia is not a specific disease. It’s an overall term that describes a group of symptoms associated with a decline in cognitive function.
In younger people, these symptoms are often caused by conditions other than Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, in these cases, experts often classify these as mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or age-related cognitive decline (ARCD). These terms refer to a decline in thinking skills in adults who are not yet demented but who have experienced some form of memory loss or another sign associated with decline. Who Gets Dementia – Second Paragraph: The causes for many types of dementia are unclear; however, we do know that risk factors for developing MCI or ARCD include family history, head injury and cerebrovascular disease (bleeding in your brain), among others.
The 10 Things You Can Do Now to Help Prevent Memory Loss in the Future
- Get regular exercise. Physical activity helps to pump blood and oxygen to the brain, which can help to prevent cognitive decline.
- Eat a healthy diet. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains has been linked with a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
- Stimulate your mind. Mental stimulation through activities like reading, playing games, or learning new skills can help keep your brain sharp as you age.
- Get enough sleep
- Reduce stress. Stress is one factor which can cause your hippocampus to shrink, but there are ways to help mitigate it. Talking with a therapist, using meditation techniques, or even taking walks in nature can all help to reduce stress levels and keep your mind clear as you age.