- You can develop AD at quite a young age. My youngest patient (so far) was 23. And considering that people have changes in their brains for 10-15 years before there are ANY symptoms, that patient must have had the disease since childhood. Early onset dementia is the focus of much concern by care professionals as the disease symptoms tend to be more involved than when it presents in the 70's and the social/monetary issues are different. Many many people present with AD in their 40's and 50's.
Among families where AD is present there is an over-riding fear of AD in the next generation. While the statisitics are surprisingly small, I would suggest mentioning it to your doc.
If you are a woman in your early 50's, menopause may be playing tricks on you. With menopause there are well-known changes in attention and short-term memory. Also there is insomnia and mood swings. These can give the impression that yoiu have early dementia.
Also in a 50 year old we would check for low thyroid, depression, and overwhelming or chronic situational stress which would cause anxiety and inattention.
- What is the difference between dementia and AD? Dementia is a word that describes a set of symptoms indicating permanent and usually progressive damage to the "thinking/doing/remembering/behavior/laguage, and sensory interpretation areas of the brain." When we say dementia we look for a progressive loss of intellectual, planning, day to day function, etc.
In a way, saying you have dementia is a similar type of over-arching symptoms similar to the word "Infection." If you have an infection you have pain, redness, swelling, heat, etc no matter where it is on or inside the body. But there are dozens of germs that cause infections such as TB, staph, strep, e-coli, etc.
With dementia there are dozens of causes. Alzheimer's is simply one cause, the most common in older adults so you hear the most about it. Allpatients with Alzheimer's disease have dementia but all people with dementia do not have Alzheimer's disease.
Other causes of dementia (there are about 100) include fronto-temporal dementia, multi-infarct/vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, Huntingdon's chorea, alcoholisma, repeated trauma (injury) and so forth.
Hope this helps
Geri R Hall, PhD, ARNP, GCNS, FAAN
Advanced Practice Nurse
Banner Alzheimer's Institute