How Do You Determine if it’s Early-Onset Alzheimer’s?


For those under 65, symptoms of memory loss and confusion may not be enough to lead to a decisive diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. In a recent article, “Stolen Memories: Problems with diagnosis of younger-onset Alzheimer’s,” the Concord Monitor explained some of the issues preventing a diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s.

A 2006 survey by the Alzheimer’s Association found that approximately one-third of respondents with younger-onset Alzheimer’s did not receive a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s for between one to six years. Another study by the same organization estimated that as many as half of all people with Alzheimer’s disease never receive a diagnosis.

This is due in part to how doctors test for and diagnose Alzheimer’s. There is no blood test for Alzheimer’s, as it is a disease within the brain. Instead, doctors need to collect and compare information from family history, brains scans (MRIs, PET, and CAT scans), and neuropsychological exams.

Individuals with early dementia but without a specific diagnosis are often let go or forced to move from job to job. Unfortunately, the symptoms often go unrecognized by the individual dealing with them, leading to frustration and disillusionment. He or she may be the last to notice issues, and for those who do recognize that something is happening, they may not want to speak to their employer about symptoms for fear of being fired.

Those who are let go from jobs before receiving a formal diagnosis are no longer eligible for disability benefits, adding a further financial burden to a disease with expensive treatment and care requirements.

If you need support in caring for your loved one who has dementia, please give us a call. We specialize in elder law and legal planning for those with dementia, and we can help with paying for care, questions of competency, and care options. We have Certified Dementia Practitioners and Certified Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Care trainers in our office who can help you. Call 609-580-1044 if you would like to talk to us and schedule a consultation.

Reference: Concord Monitor (April 8, 2018) “Stolen Memories: Problems with diagnosis of younger-onset Alzheimer’s”