Dementia is commonly thought of as a distressing mental health condition which only affects older people, but is this assumption correct? Take a look at what may cause dementia in younger people and how likely early on-set dementia might be.

Many possible causes of dementia-like symptoms

Dementia can occur in younger people (when it is frequently termed “working age dementia”), although it is relatively uncommon, becoming even rarer the younger a person might be. Dementia like symptoms, such as memory loss or temporary confusion, can be due to a wide range of other factors, including stress, physical illness, mental illnesses (such as depression), as a side effect of certain medication or even not getting enough sleep. People of any age who have experienced deterioration in their memory should see a medical professional, simply to establish what can be causing the problem and what might be done to resolve it.
 

Risk factors for early onset dementia

As indicated above, it’s important to remember that early onset dementia is relatively uncommon, but for some people the risk is significantly increased. Often a family history of early onset dementia, brain damage, congenital learning disabilities or chronic alcohol abuse may predispose a person to develop dementia at a far earlier age than usual. If you have one of these risk factors in your medical history, talk to your GP about what this might mean for your overall risk and what, if anything, can be done. 
 

Get some perspective

Whilst dementia is possible in younger people, it’s not a common diagnosis, even amongst high risk groups. Don’t forget that just because you have an increased risk of contracting a certain illness or condition, it doesn’t mean that you invariably will. Some people may become unnecessarily anxious or concerned about developing dementia, which can paradoxically lead to them displaying dementia-like symptoms due to anxiety, creating a vicious circle of concern. Consult a medical professional in order to obtain objective, helpful insight into your worries.
 

Preventing dementia

Regardless of age, there are a number of important lifestyle improvements that everybody can make, which help to reduce the risk of dementia at any age. Maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, drinking moderately, taking exercise, staying mentally active and spending quality time with family and friends who make you feel good can all significantly improve quality of life as well as lessen your chances of developing dementia as the years go on. Why not start making some positive changes to your life and start enjoying the benefits of a healthier regime?

Although younger people can and sadly do develop dementia, thankfully the numbers that do so are relatively small. Younger people who suffer from dementia like symptoms are far more likely to be suffering from something less serious. Adopting a healthy lifestyle not only helps to minimise the risk of developing dementia, it also plays a key role in preventing many other chronic diseases, as well as enabling people to enjoy a better quality of life.

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