Wednesday Workshop – An Introduction into Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease

Wednesday Workshop – An Introduction into Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease

Wednesday Workshop – An Introduction into Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease

Hello and welcome to today’s Wednesday Workshop. Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, is usually a disease of the elderly. Symptoms generally first start to appear when people are in their mid-60s. Rarely, Alzheimer’s also affects people much younger, sometimes people in their 40s and 50s. It struck Pat Summitt, the renowned basketball coach who captured the most wins ever in Division 1 basketball, at age 59. Just five years later, at 64, early-onset Alzheimer’s claimed her life.

Early-onset Alzheimer’s accounts for 5% of the nearly 5 million Alzheimer’s cases in the U.S. Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S.

Here’s what else you need to know.

First, what is early-onset Alzheimer’s disease?

Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease is uncommon. Symptoms are different for everyone, but one thing to watch for is difficulty remembering and retaining new information. As the disease progresses, however, all forms of memory are affected.

What causes it?

Why some people get Alzheimer’s disease is still mostly a mystery. But most people who get early-onset Alzheimer’s disease have a family history, Dr. W says, and about 10% of cases are caused by mutations in three known genes. These mutations are closely linked to the overproduction of sticky proteins that can clump together to form plaques in the brain, suffocating neurons.

What are the symptoms?

Short-term memory loss is a symptom in the majority of Alzheimer’s cases, and while that’s still true of early-onset, this rare form sometimes presents in ways that have nothing to do with memory. In about a quarter of cases, people with early-onset have difficulty controlling their gaze, processing visual information, doing calculations or have problems with speech, says Dr. W.

How long do people usually live after diagnosis?

Otherwise healthy people will typically live for another 10 to 12 years, Dr. W says. “The pathology of early Alzheimer’s is more severe, so that can lead to a shorter survival, but a lot is dependent on how much nursing and supportive care they get.”

How do people actually die from Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s can cause medical complications, like infections, that are driven by the disease. “People will most commonly die of aspiration pneumonia; when they’re trying to take in food or liquids, it goes to their lungs and they pass away,” Dr. W says. As Alzheimer’s progresses, people can develop compromised immune systems, making it harder to fight off infection and be physically active. Because it complicates all other medical conditions, and because it requires such comprehensive care, Alzheimer’s disease is the single most costly condition in America.

To learn more or to speak with us here at the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center

Feel free to call us at (877) 760-9199 or email us below. Thanks for watching today’s Wednesday Workshop and we’ll see you again next week!

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