Most of the people diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s disease experience the same signs and symptoms as older people with the disease. These are marked by a persistent, disabling decline in two or more intellectual abilities such as memory, language, judgment and abstract thinking.
Examples include unusual memory loss, particularly in remembering recent events and the names of people and things, as well as the inability to find the right word. As the disease progresses, people can experience drastic mood swings and become unable to perform complex activities such as driving. Confusion, poor judgement, agitation and withdrawal may also develop. In the latter stages of Early Onset Alzheimer’s disease, people forget how to perform simple tasks such as brushing their hair and require full-time care.
When it comes to Early Onset Alzheimer’s, early detection is critical because of how rapidly the condition progresses. Once diagnosed, a doctor may prescribe medications, such as cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine, which tend to be more effective in the early stages of the disease. These medications may help slow down the progression of memory loss, thinking and reasoning problems, and the loss of day-to-day function. While Alzheimer’s drugs don’t cure the disease, they can improve quality of life and help prolong independence.
The other reason early detection and diagnosis is key is that is provides more time for long term care planning before significant cognitive decline occurs. Connecting with an elder attorney is a great place to start in preparing advanced care directives, such as a living will, a health care power of attorney for medical needs and a durable power of attorney for financial matters. Elder attorneys can offer legal guidance and counseling on preparing for long-term care.
Making necessary preparations early on ensures that someone with early onset Alzheimer’s has as much control over their life as possible.
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