Young Onset Dementia (YOD)
typically affects 45 to 65-year-olds, although it can strike as early as during 40s or even late 30s.
National Neuroscience Institute (NNI), a member of the
SingHealth group, has been seeing a gradual increase in the number of YOD cases from approximately 250-300 new cases per year, with half of the patients being under 65 years old.
Causes of young onset dementia
Associate Professor Nagaendran Kandiah, Senior Consultant from the Department of Neurology at NNI, there are various reasons for the increase. One possibility is increasing awareness of YOD in recent years. Next, doctors are also diagnosing patients more accurately now with advanced imaging technology.
“In the past, these patients would have gone undiagnosed or been misdiagnosed with psychiatric conditions such as depression or pseudo-dementia.” Another reason could be the
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.”
Genetics too can play a part, as about two in five patients have a parent or sibling with the condition.
Signs of young onset dementia
YOD is believed to have set in when cognitive and behavioural symptoms appear in younger individuals. These include:
Behavioural and mood changes
Difficulty in abstract thinking and reasoning
Disoriented to time and place
Forgetfulness that affects day to day function
Forgets recently given instruction
Misplaces personal items
Neglects personal hygiene
Problems with language
Unable to perform familiar tasks
These symptoms can worsen with stress. When this happens, loved ones may notice the changes in behaviour.
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