Dementia Affects Younger People Too

Caption:Young Onset Dementia (YOD) typically affects 45- to 65-year-olds, although it can hit people in their early 40s or even late 30s. The condition is also more aggressive than dementia in the old. A/Prof Nagaendran Kandiah, Senior Consultant, Department of Neurology at National Neuroscience Institute (NNI), shares more about YOD. (iStock photo)

A relatively new phenomenon in Asia, Young Onset Dementia (YOD) cases have been gradually increasing at the National Neuroscience Institute (NNI) in recent years. In 2018, the institute saw 180 new cases, an increase from 100 in 2017. In fact, YOD accounts for a third of all dementia cases seen at NNI.

Related article: Causes of YOD and symptoms to watch out for

Reasons for the rise in YOD in recent years

According to A/Prof Nagaendran Kandiah, Senior Consultant, Department of Neurology, National Neuroscience Institute (NNI), and Assistant Professor, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore, both members of the SingHealth group, reasons for the increase in recent years include:

  • Increasing awareness of YOD
  • Increasing number of younger people with diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. "These diseases can lead to strokes which may eventually result in vascular dementia," explained A/Prof Nagaendran
  • More accurate diagnosis with increasingly advanced imaging technology

In YOD, the progression of brain changes in younger people is usually more rapid than dementia in older people, resulting in a faster loss of thinking abilities.

Related article: Having YOD also affects your child. Our experts share coping tips

Is YOD preventable?

Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial as it is believed that changes in the brain begin 10 to 15 years before symptoms are apparent. If diagnosed early, some cases can be treated and even cured. There are already medications available and others are in the final phases of research.

In terms of preventing YOD, a study recommends to:

  1. Engage in 150mins of moderate moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity a week
  2. Engage in regular mental stimulation
  3. Adopt a healthy, well-balanced diet that includes deep-sea fish, nuts (almonds, walnuts) and berries to slow down progression from mild cognitive impairment to dementia

Related article: Caring for a dementia patient? Tips and community support you can tap on


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