When someone you love is diagnosed with a form of memory loss such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, it is natural to want to offer them support. We have come to accept that these conditions can often go hand in hand with aging, but memory loss can affect younger people too.
What Is Early-Onset Dementia?
Dementia is a syndrome where brain function is impaired and goes into decline. Early-onset dementia refers to a diagnosis of dementia before the age of 65. Memory problems are often the first sign of early-onset dementia. Everyone forgets things from time to time, but certain types of forgetfulness, such as difficulty recalling recent events or frequently struggling to find the right word to use, can be a sign that things aren’t as they should be.
How Early-Onset Dementia Affects Day-to-Day Life
For some people in the first stages of early-onset dementia, life may carry on as normal. If they are not a danger to themselves or others, they might be able to continue working – in fact, many people with early-onset dementia can do this. If their skills and judgment aren’t impaired, they may also be able to continue to drive. In some cases, only those who are very close to the person with early-onset dementia will notice symptoms.
However, dementia is a progressive condition. Over time you might notice your loved one become less lucid or show physical symptoms such as weight loss. They could develop mobility problems or low mood. Different types of dementia affect the brain and body in different ways.
How to Help a Loved One with Early-Onset Dementia
Being given a diagnosis of early-onset dementia can be a shock. Your loved one might find it difficult to accept the diagnosis, especially if it was unexpected. Be there for them as they come to terms with a future that may look very different from the one they planned. They may want you to come with them to medical appointments or support them in other ways if the diagnosis knocks their confidence.
Over time there may need to be lifestyle changes. Keeping your loved one safe and well is the top priority and this could mean they need extra care. Family and friends may be able to offer support or community carers can be employed. Assisted living is another great option and gives family and friends peace of mind that their loved one is safe. If you are looking for dementia care St. Louis, some homes can offer high-quality facilities that allow your loved one to have an improved quality of life whether that is through assisted living or nursing care.
If your loved one has just been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, you can help by being an advocate for them. Ask questions of medical staff and get advice from specialist charities and organizations. Practical support is often the best way of showing your love and commitment, along with reassuring your loved one that you will always be there for them and have their best interests at heart.