It is common for there to be a slowing in thinking. A typical aging person may forget a word every once in awhile, may misplace something, forget to do something or forget that they've done something but for the most part it's never usually severe enough to like strongly impact function, whereas with dementia there's changes in their thinking and their memory and their behavior in such a significant way that it does impact function and that is what's not normal. I'm sure you can think of quite a handful of elderly persons that you know that are still sharp as a tack, that have amazing memories, and may even keep you straight from time to time. In fact in persons over 65 years of age dementia only makes up like 10 to 20% of that population, which is nowhere near even half. Dementia is NOT a normal part of aging.
Many people are lead to believe that dementia only affects older people. However, this is not true. With dementia you have early onset dementia or late onset dementia. Early onset is also called younger or young-onset because sometimes when people say early onset dementia it gets confused with the stages of early middle late which is referring to the progression of dementia whereas ...early onset is simply referring to the age at onset. For those people who are under the age of 65 who end up with a diagnosis of dementia they are said to have early onset dementia. Those who are 65 years or older they are said to have late onset dementia. Now, that 65 age barrier is actually just an arbitrary number. It's not based on any biological factors or anything like that, it's just kind of like that retirement age and so it's used to define late from early. Now as far as statistics go, there is no precise range of how many people in the population are affected by early onset dementia but it is estimated that there are somewhere between 220,000 to 640,000 people in America under the age of 65 with some type of dementia. So the same type of dementia that you would see in persons over 65 are some of the same types that you would see in people under the age of 65 however there are some that are more likely to affect younger ages so for example frontotemporal dementia is generally diagnosed between the ages of 45 and 65 so for any of those people who are diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia before the age of 65 would be considered to have early onset dementia.
Many people affected by dementia are concerned that they will either inherit dementia or maybe pass it on to someone else but the reality is that most dementias are actually not hereditary. Now having a family member who does have dementia does put you at a higher risk for also getting it but it's not like something that's written in stone it's not like oh because my mom had it I will too or because my Grandpa add it and my mom had it I will have it too. it's usually not that black-and-white and there's a lot of factors that can contribute to it but I will say that the more rare types of dementia do show that they have a strong genetic link so for example Huntington's disease that can cause dementia has a strong genetic link or younger onset familial Alzheimer's disease has a strong genetic link but familial Alzheimer's as a whole only makes up about 2-3 percent of people diagnosed with Alzheimer's. So again, pretty rare.
Unfortunately this number is projected to triple by year 2050. Can you imagine...almost 150 million people worldwide with some type of dementia. Mind blowing, right?
That means that a new case of dementia is diagnosed pretty much every 3 seconds.
However, Alzheimer's disease specifically tends to be more prevalent in women and vascular dementia tends to be more prevent for men.
Image Credit: freepik
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