Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease Hits Close to Home

Alzheimer’s disease effects more adults than you might think.

Recently June Gallup, RN, at Cornerstone VNA and Hospice in Rochester New Hampshire shared with us her brother’s journey with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. This week the Alzheimer’s Association, Massachusetts and New Hampshire Chapter posted a 6-minute film documenting their experience with the disease.

Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease occurs between a person’s 30s to mid-60s and represents fewer than 10 percent of all people with Alzheimer’s. Some cases are caused by an inherited change in one of three genes. For other cases, research shows that other genetic components are involved. Researchers are working to identify additional genetic risk variants for early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

The main difference between early onset and late-onset is that people don’t expect to be on the lookout for these symptoms when they’re younger. Therefore, the signs aren’t always recognized as the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease

Read more about Alzheimer’s disease genetics.

Early Onset Alzheimer’s Progresses Faster 

The second difference is that early onset is more aggressive than the late-onset form of the disease.  Last year, Pat Summitt, former Tennessee women’s basketball coach, died of early onset Alzheimer’s disease.   

She had struggled with the disease for five years, which is a much shorter time span than what most older sufferers experience. She was only 64 years old. 

Visit the National Institute on Aging’s (NIA’s) Alzheimer’s and related Dementias Education and Referral Center for free publications, caregiving resources, and more information about Alzheimer’s.

The items on this list are organized by these categories:

General Resources

Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Fact Sheet (2019)

This fact sheet explains basic genetics and the genetic mutations and risk factors involved in early- and late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. It also describes genetic testing, with links for more information.

Published by the NIA Alzheimer’s and related Dementias Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center. Phone: 1-800-438-4380. Email: adear@nia.nih.gov.

Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease, Published by Johns Hopkins Medicine.

This short overview explains the differences between early- and late-onset Alzheimer’s, common symptoms, and how the disease is diagnosed. It provides tips for managing early-onset Alzheimer’s through drug and nondrug approaches.

Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease (2019), Published by the BrightFocus Foundation.

This article describes the key differences between the early- and late-onset forms of Alzheimer’s disease, including initial signs and symptoms, as well as treatment options. Links to other resources from the BrightFocus Foundation are provided.

Early-Onset Alzheimer’s: When Symptoms Begin Before Age 65 (2019), Published by the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.

In this online fact sheet, a neuropsychologist answers questions about early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Topics covered include how and why the disease often runs in families, the advisability of genetic testing, coping at work, and changes in family relationships.

Early Onset Familial AD, Published by the AlzForum

This special section of the science website Alzforum features three articles about familial Alzheimer’s disease, an inherited form of early-onset Alzheimer’s. Written for affected individuals, family members, doctors, and care providers, the articles offer reliable, up-to-date information about diagnosis, treatment, genetic counseling and testing, life issues related to the disorder, and research. A database of clinics with expertise in early-onset dementia is provided.

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