Dementia in the Young: Causes and Early Signs

·1-min read

Young Onset Dementia (YOD) typically affects 45 to 65-year-olds, although it can strike as early as during 40s or even late 30s.

The National Neuroscience Institute (NNI), a member of the SingHealth group, has been seeing a gradual increase in the number of YOD cases from approximately 250-300 new cases per year, with half of the patients being under 65 years old.

Causes of young onset dementia

According to Associate Professor Nagaendran Kandiah, Senior Consultant from the Department of Neurology at NNI, there are various reasons for the increase. One possibility is increasing awareness of YOD in recent years. Next, doctors are also diagnosing patients more accurately now with advanced imaging technology.

“In the past, these patients would have gone undiagnosed or been misdiagnosed with psychiatric conditions such as depression or pseudo-dementia.” Another reason could be the increasing number of younger people with diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. “These diseases can lead to strokes which may eventually result in vascular dementia.”

Genetics too can play a part, as about two in five patients have a parent or sibling with the condition.

Signs of young onset dementia

YOD is believed to have set in when cognitive and behavioural symptoms appear in younger individuals. These include:

  • Behavioural and mood changes

  • Difficulty in abstract thinking and reasoning

  • Disoriented to time and place

  • Forgetfulness that affects day to day function

  • Forgets recently given instruction

  • Misplaces personal items

  • Neglects personal hygiene

  • Problems with language

  • Repeats questions

  • Unable to perform familiar tasks

These symptoms can worsen with stress. When this happens, loved ones may notice the changes in behaviour.

How do you prevent young onset demenia? Find out here

Check your memory with a simple test on your mobile phone. Find out more here

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