Young Onset Dementia

Young Onset Dementia (YOD) – Dementia May Affect Younger People Too.

What does one think of when thinking about someone with dementia?

If you’re like most people, you picture an elderly person in the later stages of the disease. In fact, the global community is confronted with an immense challenge by dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s disease. The World Health Organization estimates that 50 million people worldwide suffer from dementia and 10 million new cases are reported every year.

Dementia is an overall term for a particular group of symptoms. Such a term refers to a chronic or progressive neurological condition that leads to a decline in cognitive function that goes beyond what one might expect from normal ageing. This disorder affects memory, orientation, reasoning, comprehension, calculating ability, language, and judgement.  A decline in cognitive function is frequently accompanied by deterioration in emotional control, social behaviour, or motivation.

What is young-onset dementia?

The term “young-onset dementia” (YOD) refers to such a disease that occurs before age 65, regardless of the underlying dementia syndrome. As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, symptoms, and prognosis can vary dramatically depending on the individual suffering from the disease. The Alzheimer’s Association states that diagnosing such a condition can be a difficult and frustrating process. Symptoms may be incorrectly attributed to stress or there may be conflicting diagnoses from different health care professionals.

It is caused by a wide range of different diseases. Younger people and older people are both affected by this condition (late-onset dementia), however, there are important differences in how dementia affects younger people. A few of these are:

  • It can be caused by a wide range of diseases.
  • Younger people are much more likely to develop a rarer form of dementia.
  • Alzheimer’s patients under the age of 65 are less likely to suffer from memory loss as a first symptom.
  • In young onset dementia, it is more common to experience problems with walking, coordination, balance, and movement.
  • Among young people, 10% are thought to have dementia that is inherited (inherited genes).
  • The majority of younger people with such condition do not have other serious or long-term health conditions.

How do you cope with it?

It is a traumatic experience for anyone, no matter their age. However, people with young-onset dementia may face some unique challenges. They may face stigmas and stereotypes about the disease. In cases of young-onset dementia, many believe the person does not have the illness or dispute the diagnosis due to their age.

  • Discuss your condition with your employer before it creates a significant obstacle to your job performance. 
  • You may want to consider switching position or getting a career that meets your changing needs.
  • Check out the employee assistance program and make sure you and your spouse are aware of your benefits.
  • Engage in as many of the activities that you currently enjoy with your partner as possible and adapt as necessary. Try new activities together or find new things to do.
  • Find a counsellor with experience helping couples dealing with issues you find challenging.
  • Keep your children informed and honest about what you’re going through.
  • Explore what benefits may be available to you through Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.

By connecting with services such as support groups, you could learn about resources, gain a better understanding of the disability and learn how to adjust. Remember, you’re not alone. There are many resources available to you, your family and caregivers for dealing with this disease.  To learn more about our program, visit for more info.