We often think of dementia as a condition impacting older people. However, Younger Onset Dementia (YOD) impacts a significant number of Australians. The latest figures from Alzheimer’s Australia show that YOD affects approximately 25,938 Australians – people who have been diagnosed in their 50s, 40s and even their 30s.
What is YOD?
The term ‘dementia’ is used to describe the symptoms of a large group of illnesses which cause a progressive decline in a person’s mental functioning, severe enough to interfere with daily life (Alzheimer’s Australia).
While dementia is an umbrella term applied to a group of illnesses, Alzheimer’s disease accounts for approximately 60-80% of cases.
Symptoms can vary but common ones include:
- Loss of memory. Initially this may be short-term memory but gradually becomes more progressive and encompassing.
- Communication and language difficulties.
- Reduction in rationality, reasoning and judgement.
- Problems with visual perception.
Dementia is described as ‘Younger Onset’ when it is diagnosed in a person under the age of 65.
How is it diagnosed?
A diagnosis of Younger Onset Dementia can be complex. Early warning signs include repetitive behaviour, confusion, a failing sense of direction and difficulty completing normal tasks.
If you suspect that you or a loved one has Younger Onset Dementia, the first, crucial step is receiving a formal diagnosis. A referral to a good neurologist is essential. They will undertake a series of tests to determine whether the symptoms are from dementia, or whether another health problem is the underlying cause. Tests may include:
- Memory tests
- A neurological exam
- Blood tests
- A brain scan
What support is available?
Financial support for people with Younger Onset Dementia is available through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). To qualify, you must be under 65 and the disability must be long-term and severely impact your quality of life.
Zest Care is a registered NDIS provider with a team of dedicated Support Workers who are experienced in helping families across NSW. We can help you manage your NDIS plan, coordinate your Supports and provide Personal Care. Contact us today to find out more about how we can assist.
“Alzheimer’s caregivers ride the world’s biggest, fastest, scariest, emotional rollercoaster every day.” Bob De Marco.
We’re also supporting Dementia Awareness Month by raising awareness about Alzheimer’s and dementia.