Allison Elliott-Shannon

Early Diagnosis Crucial for Younger-Onset Alzheimer's

Published: May 15, 2012

 

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 15, 2012) - The following column appeared in the Lexington Herald-Leader on Sunday, May 13.

 

Early Diagnosis Is Crucial For Younger-Onset Alzheimer's

By Dr. Gregory Jicha

 

Younger-onset (or early-onset) Alzheimer’s disease refers to Alzheimer’s disease in people younger than 65. It has been in the news lately: Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt, 59, recently stepped down from her job due to Alzheimer’s. Early-onset Alzheimer’s can affect people as young as their 40s. Because it strikes people in the prime of life, the early-onset form of the disease brings with it extra complications. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, as many as 5 percent of Alzheimer’s cases in the United States are early-onset.

 

Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease of cognitive impairment. People gradually lose their ability to understand, remember and think clearly. There is currently no known cure for Alzheimer’s, although there are treatments that can slow the progression of symptoms.

When younger people develop Alzheimer’s, they are typically living busy lives. They might have just reached the peak of their career, and they often are busy caring for children, and sometimes caring for their own older relatives.

 

Early-onset Alzheimer’s often strikes before people qualify for retirement benefits, Social Security or Medicare. Thus it can be even more financially devastating than for older adults. Typically, younger people have not had as much time to plan for their financial future, so they often are not financially ready to retire. Unable to work, the affected person might be forced to take early retirement, losing income and health benefits.

 

In addition to the typical stages of coming to grips with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis — anger, denial, depression, isolation and loss — those with the early-onset form of the disease might be faced with explaining the condition to their children, and with finding alternative caregiving arrangements for their own parents.

 

Although there is not yet a cure for Alzheimer’s, there are medications that can ease its symptoms. Also, clinical trials are in progress to test possible treatments for the disease. Support services are available for people with Alzheimer’s, their caregivers and families. For that reason, it is important for any cognitive impairment to be detected as early as possible. The first step in detecting mild cognitive impairment, a precursor to Alzheimer’s, is a simple memory screening.

 

People of any age who suspect that they might have problems with memory are encouraged to seek screening and assistance.

 

Screening available

The UK Sanders-Brown Center on Aging provides free memory screenings from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the third Tuesday of every month at the UK HealthCare Polk-Dalton Clinic, 217 Elm Tree Lane, Lexington. No appointment is required.

 

Dr. Gregory Jicha is the McCowan Endowed Chair in Alzheimer’s Disease at the UK Sanders-Brown Center on Aging.  

 

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April
 
 
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Men's Tennis vs. Illinois
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Kentucky Children's Garden Spring Break Special!
Student Health Advisory Council Meeting
Best Practices for Tree Planting and Establishment Class 2
Selecting the Right Tree for Your Landscape Class 1
#TrendingTopics: It's Not Easy Being Green
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Creoles Topopholia
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Cormac O'Grada - "The Nature of Famines"
"The Nature of Famines," Committee on Social Theory Public Lecture
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Boxes & Walls: Oppression through History
Job Club: Research Your Target Organization Before the Interview: What to Know and How to Find Out
#UK Kicks Butts Day
UK Softball vs. Wright State
Dine. Discover. Decide.: Connecting students to alumni in 3D!
Earth Days in the Bluegrass and the Late Night Film Series Present: Gasland Part II, A Bike-In Movie
UK Baseball vs. Morehead State
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UK Men's Tennis vs. Ohio State
Boxes & Walls: Oppression through History
Wellness On Wheels
Get Your DIY On! Fix-It Station Demonstrations
Overview of Nursing Home Care
Spring (Bike) Fever Twitter Chat
UK Softball vs. Mississippi Valley
Best Practices for Tree Planting and Establishment Class 2
UK Men's Tennis vs. Morehead State
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UK Toastmasters
Bike-Through Resource Fair
Undergraduate Research Group Advising Session: April General
Presentation by Ladino Rockstar, Sarah Aroeste
Mountain Biking for Beginners Clinic
LNFS presents The Mexican Suitcase
Mr. PharmD
Performance by Ladino Rockstar, Sara Aroeste
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Car-Free Day
What Are They? Some Hidden Forms of the Copula in Old Irish
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UK Baseball vs. Missouri
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UK Men's Golf Bluegrass Invitational
Arboretum Volunteer Training and Orientation
Taste of Africa
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Swing Dancing!
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Inequality in the US: Consequences
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Children at Risk Research Conference Keynote Address: Gender, Sexuality, & Risks for Violence among Young Women and LGBTQ Youth in Urban Communities
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Job Club: Tighten Your Budget after a Job Loss
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LNFS presents The Lego Movie
Registration Deadline: Weight Loss Matters
Legacy Week: Ping Pong Ball Drop
Health Smart: Mindfulness
Pre-Pharmacy Club Meeting
IPM (Integrated Pest Management) and Tree Healthcare Class 4
Shuffle Series: Bluegrass
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Perelman’s Dissociations: Double Fidélité, Fighting the Nazis, and the New Rhetoric Project’s Canon of Invention – Annual Hymson Lecture
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Bonfires of Illusions: the Twin Crises of the Liberal World
Arbor Day Volunteer Orientation and Training
Alex Callinicos - "Bonfires of Illusions: The Twin Crises of the Liberal World
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UK Theatre presents "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"
Color Me Spring Fashion Show
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Relieving Stress Through Your Senses
Tree Identification Class 5
Massage on the Go #3
The Practicing Happiness Workbook - author presentation
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