Is it possible for a forty year-old to have dementia?

A fellow caregiver asked...

Can someone tell me if it's possible to have dementia as a forty year-old? My husband is becoming so zombie-like and making such poor decisions, almost no initiative or drive. Very intelligent formerly, now not as much. Seems to sleep a lot. He is being treated for adrenal and thyroid and testosterone lows, but isn't seeming better symptom-wise. I've done increasing work to cover for him, and he's just not 'there'. Not to mention total lack of interest in intimacy. His dad died of OPCA/SCA a year or two ago, and all grandparents had some form of dementia, alzheimer's, or Parkinsons. Could this be early signs of any of these? See Dr. Tomorrow re. Hormones-what should I say or ask? Thank you--I'm pregnant on bedrest with four 'other' kids and he needs as much as all put together.

Expert Answer

Joanne Koenig Coste is a nationally recognized expert on Alzheimer's care and an outspoken advocate for patient and family care. She is the author of Learning to Speak Alzheimer's. Also, she currently is in private practice as an Alzheimer's family therapist. Ms. Koenig Coste also serves as President of Alzheimer Consulting Associates, implementing state-of-the-art Alzheimer care throughout the United States.

Yes indeed there is such a thing as '40 year old dementia' and yes, it is different from clinical depression although it may at times mimic it. Early Onset Alzheimer's (AD) is a topic of great interest to the professional aging community and in recent years has gained much-needed public awareness.
I can truly identify with your feelings as I was the carepartner for my husband who had an early onset mixed dementia beginning in his early 40's; we had 4 children ranging in age from 3 months to 10. You are fortunate, in one respect, by having so much more information than existed at the time of my experience several decades ago. With this said, I urge you to insist on an appropriate neurologic workup to rule out treatable causes of the changes in your hubby's behavior. It could be as simple as a relationship to one of the diagnoses he is already being treated for, or as complicated as Early Onset AD. Your plans for the future are dependent on a correct diagnosis as early in the process as possible. Meanwhile, visit the websites of both the National Alzheimer's Association and the Alzheimer's Foundation of America for more comprehensive information on dementia in the younger population. You have already done a very brave thing by contacting Try to find laughter as often as possible and take care of YOU!