Published on: February 24, 2012
by Cleveland Clinic for Dementia Today:
There are two basic types of Alzheimer’s disease: early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Late-onset Alzheimer’s disease is the much more common type, generally beginning after age 65.
What is early-onset Alzheimer’s disease?
This is a relatively rare form of Alzheimer’s disease in which individuals are diagnosed with the disease before age 65, usually in their 40s and 50s. Less than five percent of all Alzheimer’s disease patients have this type. Symptoms of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease are similar to those of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, but the person often is still active with work, family and social activities when the symptoms begin. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include:
What are the differences between early-onset and late-onset Alzheimer’s disease?
In addition to age, there are other differences between early-onset and late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, including:
A substantial majority of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease appears to be linked with a genetic defect on chromosome 14, to which late-onset Alzheimer’s is not linked.
A condition called myoclonus — muscle twitching and spasm — is more commonly seen in early-onset Alzheimer’s disease than in late-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Some research suggests that people with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease decline at a faster rate than do those with late-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Younger people who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease tend to be more physically fit and active, and many still have family and career responsibilities. As a result, they tend to react differently to the disease, and may be more likely to feel powerless, frustrated and depressed.
Tips for living with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease
People with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease must understand that life is not over. While it’s true that your life will change, particularly as the disease progresses, there are things you can do to maintain a meaningful and productive life. It is especially important to continue with activities and interests you can still enjoy, and take comfort in the support of friends and family.
Here are some tips for living with Alzheimer’s disease:
Family and friends
Financial and legal matters
Although it’s great to celebrate the big achievements, it’s also important to celebrate the small wins.
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