Dementia is a condition of cognitive decline, also known as dementia, confusion that often occurs in the elderly, especially people over 65 years old. However, based on recent statistics, it is found that the rate of dementia in young people is increasing year by year.
Dementia in young people – Current situation
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), dementia is a syndrome that is chronic or has the potential to progress spontaneously. This is a disease related to the function of the brain, stopping the process of information transmission and storage of the brain. Dementia is also known by many other names such as cognitive impairment, memory impairment, etc.
People with this disease often have a decline in thinking and perception that is not in line with the expectations of normal people of the same age. This condition will affect thinking, memory, orientation, ability to understand, use language, calculate, judge, but will not affect consciousness.
Although age is considered to be the biggest factor that can affect this disease, it is not the only cause of the disease. In fact, there are many young people who also experience symptoms of dementia for many different reasons. Most patients cannot detect early warning signs because the symptoms of the disease are often related to memory, not specific.
Dementia is now getting younger and younger, there are many young people around the world suffering from this disease that even they themselves are not aware. The New York Times reports that while most of the 5.3 million Americans facing Alzheimer’s disease or some form of dementia are over the age of 65, there are currently nearly 200,000 under the age of 65 who are also living. develop memory and thinking problems at an early stage.
David S Knopman, a neuroscientist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said, “Youth-onset dementia is a very concerning phenomenon, because it affects the the most important years of their lives”. There are cases of the disease at the age of 40 to 50, when they are at the peak of their career and are not ready to retire.
In an analysis conducted by 74 Dutch researchers, it was found that worldwide, more than 3.9 million young people under the age of 65 suffer from dementia. The results of this study were also published in the September 2021 issue of JAMA Neurology, according to which 119 out of every 100,000 people aged 30 to 64 will have early stage dementia. .
Besides, the diagnosis of dementia syndrome in young people is also difficult and time-consuming, requiring doctors to know how to ask appropriate exploration questions. Besides, it is necessary to conduct a brain scan to rule out the possibility of a tumor in the brain. If early detection and appropriate treatment can be applied, symptoms can also be effectively controlled and improved.
Signs of dementia in young people
Dementia manifestations in young people are often quite difficult to recognize because it does not manifest clearly, but only problems related to memory. However, if you can pay attention, you can still detect unusual signs such as:
1. Short-term memory loss
Memory is the first affected problem for people with dementia. Patients will show signs of short-term memory loss, they may forget what they need to do or cannot remember the things they have stored here.
If the condition is more severe, patients may remember events that happened in the past but forget things that have just occurred recently, they tend to live in the past. Or the most serious is that the patient forgets the events that happened before.
2. Changes in mood or behavior
Dementia can cause people to gradually change their personality, they begin to become more difficult, irritable, and angry. Or in some cases, they will lose control, can’t control themselves but say meaningless words, laugh at the wrong situation or even oppose and lash out at others.
The patient may forget or use after words even simple words of everyday use. They will also speak more slowly, often repeating words that are difficult to understand. In addition, some cases of dementia also have improper behavior, the patient has difficulty in controlling desires and can cause many influences to those around them.
3. Difficulty in absorbing new information, skills, and ideas
Young people with dementia often find it difficult to learn and absorb new information. In addition, some patients also suffer from obsessive behaviors, paranoia, sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, weight loss, depression or make up stories that are not true.
In severe cases, patients may experience short-term and long-term memory loss, difficulty walking, difficulty swallowing. Often the patient will not be aware of their unusual symptoms and of course they will have a hard time realizing they have the disease.
4. Confused, unable to complete simple tasks well
Dementia in young people often makes it difficult for patients to receive and perform daily tasks, even if it is just simple tasks such as brushing teeth, washing face, changing clothes. Dressing, bathing, etc. Patients are often not interested in taking care of themselves.
Or in some other cases, you may become distracted, give up or even forget what you are doing. Patients will easily feel confused when operating in new environments or interacting with strangers. They may be disoriented, unable to locate space and time, and unable to distinguish between morning and afternoon.
If a person suddenly has no feelings for the events happening around them, they show apathy, apathy, and gradually lose interest in most outside activities, then they need tested for dementia risk. Accordingly, experts say that apathy is one of the early signs of dementia in young people. Patients do not seem to have any external desires or interests, they do not want to do any work.
Reasons why young people have dementia
In medical terms, dementia is also known as a neurocognitive disorder. This is considered an impairment in memory, attention, learning, concentration and decision-making. In addition to age, this disorder can also have an early onset for a variety of reasons. Specifically as:
1. Alzheimer’s Disease
As is the case with older adults, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia in young people. However, there is still a certain difference in the signs and symptoms between these two subjects.
In the elderly, the disease will often be triggered by signs of memory loss. Young people are more likely to have problems with speech, vision, the ability to plan, make decisions, or change behavior.
According to statistics, nearly one-third of young people have atypical Alzheimer’s disease, of which about 5% of older people have this disease. This is also a genetic disease. The earlier symptoms appear, the more likely it is to be hereditary.
2. Due to blood vessels
Second only to Alzheimer’s disease, blood vessels are the most common cause of dementia in many young people. Certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or heart problems, are risk factors that can increase the likelihood of an early onset of the disease.
Symptoms of dementia usually occur when the body has problems with the blood supply to the brain. It is strongly associated with diabetes or cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease or stroke. It is estimated that about 15% of young people suffer from vascular dementia.
There is an inherited form of vascular dementia known as CADASIL (spontaneous brain dominant arterial disease with subdural infarction and leukoencephalopathy). This condition is very rare but is most common between the ages of 30 and 50. The person suffers from migraine headaches, low mood, repeated strokes, loss of mental capacity. CADASIL is caused by an internal defect in the gene (NOTCH3) and is inherited similarly to familial Alzheimer’s disease.
3. Other causes
Alcohol-related injuries also often occur in the 50s. People who have a habit of abusing alcohol, drinking a lot of alcohol will cause vitamin B1 deficiency. That’s why nerve cells are easily damaged, causing oil injury and limiting eating. About 10% of young people have dementia due to the effects of alcohol.
Dementia due to excessive alcohol use will be somewhat different from cases of onset of other causes. Also, the patient is likely to be controlled or improved with timely treatment, exercise and healthy eating.
Besides, dementia in young people can also stem from a few other reasons such as vitamin B12 deficiency, endocrine disorders (adrenal gland, thyroid disease), infection (HIV), etc. If these causes can be detected at an early stage, they can be improved and overcome well.
How does dementia affect young people?
A rather surprising thing that has been shared by many scientific studies, is that nerve cells between the ages of 20 and 25 begin to degenerate. More specifically, there are more than 3,000 brain cells that gradually die every day without the ability to produce more.
In addition, internal free radicals along with external factors influence the degeneration process to take place more quickly and more severely, thereby leading to dementia in humans. young. This condition has many negative effects on the patient’s daily activities.
1. Impact on life
Life is the single most devastating impact that dementia can have on young people. You can easily see this through the daily activities of the patient. They can constantly forget very simple things, such as forgetting to bring their wallet when going to the market, forgetting the door key, forgetting to turn off the stove when cooking, etc.
If this condition continues and there is no good remedy, it will gradually change the patient’s mood and behavior. They can become irritable, easily angered, difficult, more impatient and of course this will interfere with relationships, even break up good relationships.
2. Impact on work
Most people with dementia will find it difficult to concentrate, often lethargic, not paying attention to anything, including school and important jobs. When memory is impaired, awareness and problem-solving thinking will also be impaired.
Therefore, patients often react slowly to everything going on around them, they are no longer able to respond and solve all problems in life well. As a result, their learning and work performance will be significantly reduced.
3. Health effects
According to experts, if dementia in young people is not well controlled and overcome, the brain will gradually lose control of other organs in the body and directly affect the brain. to the patient’s health or even the loss of the chance of recovery. Patients will be at risk of facing brain atrophy, white matter damage, brain cell death or brain blood vessel damage.
Solutions to overcome dementia in young people
If you suspect that you or someone close to you is suffering from dementia, you need to see a specialist quickly. Testimonies of family members or those directly caring for and living together play an important role in the diagnosis of the disease. Also because sometimes patients will not be aware of their own symptoms and are no longer lucid enough to respond to the doctor’s questions.
After that, the patient will be carried out a number of tests, conduct blood tests, imaging to be able to give the most accurate clinical assessment. For patients with early dementia, a family history of Alzheimer’s disease will be considered for genetic testing.
After determining the specific condition of each person, the specialist will advise and recommend an appropriate treatment plan. Depending on the cause of the disease, the treatment process will have different results, it can be completely cured, but in some cases it can only relieve symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease.
Commonly used methods are:
1. Use of therapeutic drugs
Using medication is one of the methods that are always applied to dementia in both the young and the elderly. Depending on each different medical condition, the patient will have a number of comorbidities and a unique way of drug response.
Therefore, the doctor will carefully consider to prescribe the most suitable medicine for each case. In the process of using the drug, relatives also need to monitor and observe to make sure that the patient takes the medicine exactly as ordered by the doctor, limiting possible bad situations.
2. Non-drug method
In addition to using medication to treat dementia, dementia patients also need to know how to exercise a healthy body to overcome the symptoms of the disease. Therefore, each patient needs to build for himself a healthy and active lifestyle.
Regularly exercise, eat well, improve sleep quality, do not smoke or use stimulants such as alcohol. At the same time, it is necessary to balance the psychological state and manage stress.
Dementia seems to be only a problem of the elderly, but now it tends to rejuvenate and appear more in young people. Hopefully, through the information in this article, readers will understand more about this disease and have appropriate detection and treatment.