Parenting a Parent: Facts on Early-onset Alzheimer’s

Great CareAlzheimer's Association is personally familiar with Alzheimer’s disease and the difficult heartbreak it presents to those caregiving for parents and loved ones. And with an early-onset diagnosis, the challenges can present themselves differently.

The Alzheimer’s Association defines early-onset Alzheimer’s and dementia, also referred to as younger-onset, as Alzheimer’s that affects people younger than age 65. Nearly 4 percent of the more than 5 million Americans with Alzheimer’s have younger-onset, according to the nonprofit.

“Many people with younger-onset are in their 40s and 50s. They have families, careers or are even caregivers themselves,” the Alzheimer’s Association says. “In the U.S. alone, it’s estimated that more than 200,000 people have younger-onset.”

Accurate diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s can be frustrating since symptoms may be incorrectly attributed to stress. Or there may be conflicting diagnoses from different healthcare professionals, says the association.

“People who have younger-onset Alzheimer’s may be in any stage of dementia – early, middle or late stage. The disease affects each person differently and symptoms will vary.”

The Alzheimer’s Association suggests having a comprehensive medical evaluation with a doctor who specializes in Alzheimer’s disease. A proper diagnosis involves a medical exam and possibly cognitive tests, a neurological exam and/or brain imaging.

“Write down symptoms of memory loss or other cognitive difficulties, says the Alzheimer’s Association. “Keep in mind that there is no one test that confirms Alzheimer’s disease. A diagnosis is only made after a comprehensive medical evaluation.”

Alzheimer’s is the only disease among the top 10 causes of death in America that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed. Genetics can play a role in an early-onset diagnosis.

“Doctors don’t know why most cases of early onset Alzheimer’s appear at such a young age. But in a few hundred families worldwide, scientists have pinpointed several rare genes that directly cause Alzheimer’s,” according to the Alzheimer’s Association. “People who inherit these rare genes tend to develop symptoms in their 30s, 40s and 50s. When Alzheimer’s disease is caused by deterministic genes, it is called ‘familial Alzheimer’s disease,’ and many family members in multiple generations are affected.”

A genetic connection can affect those who may have caregiving responsibilities of parents and loved ones with Alzheimer’s and dementia over their own. Nearly 60 percent of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers rate the emotional stress of caregiving as high or very high; about 40 percent suffer from depression, says the AA.

“One in five care contributors cut back on their own doctor visits because of their care responsibilities. And, among caregivers, 74 percent report they are ‘somewhat’ to ‘very’ concerned about maintaining their own health since becoming a caregiver.”

The Alzheimer’s Association works on a global, national and local level to enhance care and support for all those affected by Alzheimer’s and related dementias. Local chapters nationwide provide services within each community. Find a chapter near you.

A professionally staffed 24/7 Helpline (1-800-272-3900) offers information and advice to more than 250,000 callers each year and provides translation services in more than 170 languages. The Alzheimer’s Association provides caregivers and families with support groups, comprehensive online resources and information through the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiver Center, which features sections on early-stage, middle-stage and late-stage caregiving.

The professionals at Great Care are available to talk with you and your family about all of your home care needs, including respite care. Great Care is a non medical in-home care agency providing quality and affordable elder care in Fishers, IN and the surrounding areas. Call (888) 240-9101 for more information.

About Julie S.

Julie Sullivan is the Owner at Great Care of Indianapolis, Indiana.
Great Care is a licensed, personal services agency, providing in-home care services to the Indianapolis, Indiana and surrounding areas. We serve the personal health and daily care needs of seniors or individuals who prefer to stay at home, but require assistance with everyday activities, such as dressing, personal hygiene, meal preparation, laundry or errands. Our team of certified nurse aids and home health aids can provide you with personalized, in-home care services to meet your needs, including:
• Daytime hourly in-home care
• Temporary or post-hospital respite care
• 24-hour, around-the-clock home care
• Morning and evening care
• Overnight / Slumber care
In addition, we offer our Care Compass service, to assist in setting the course for the next stage in your loved ones life. We guide you through the currents of aging, and help you find your true north. Our licensed nurses, with experience in hospice and geriatric care, will help guide you through the complex and often sensitive journey of selecting an in-home care service, and will provide a smooth transition to a new way of life for your loved one, without the anxiety and fear.
Our current nursing and management team has more than 75 years of combined experience in the home healthcare services industry. All of our caregivers are bonded, insured and screened thoroughly, so you know you’ll be receiving the greatest care possible. That’s why we stand by our mission: to deliver the same, quality care we expect for ourselves and our loved ones.