Alzheimer’s disease affects over 5 million Americans. Of those who have the disease, about 10% are under the age of 65 and considered early-onset patients. Individuals who are diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s often experience a quick decline in mental faculties, making it difficult for them to complete everyday tasks.
Symptoms of Early-Onset Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that often strikes older adults. In fact, the majority of individuals who are diagnosed with this disease are over the age of 75. However, in a small number of cases, people under the age of 65 can develop this disease.
Early symptoms of the disease include:
- Short-term memory loss
- Coming up with the correct word or name
- Difficulty performing ordinary tasks, especially in work or social settings
People often write these symptoms off as just part of a busy life or handling stress, which is why it can be difficult to catch or diagnose Alzheimer’s in its earliest stages. As it progresses, individuals will likely start to experience more severe symptoms, including difficulty remembering important personal information, inability to control bladder and bowels, and demonstrating extreme personality changes.
Causes of Early-Onset Alzheimer’s
Unfortunately, doctors aren’t sure what causes early-onset Alzheimer’s. Some studies point to genetics as a reason for developing this disease so early, but the findings aren’t universal.
Alzheimer’s itself is thought to be caused by a buildup of proteins in and around brain cells. This disease can affect different areas of the brain and doesn’t always present the same way. However, it almost always causes the brain to shrink and results in a lowered count of neurotransmitters, which carry information to different parts of the brain.
Treatment for Early Onset Alzheimer’s
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease. There are some studies that show that doing puzzles and keeping your brain engaged can help to prevent the disease, but there is currently no universally proven strategy for prevention.
The best thing to do if you know that you have a genetic disposition for Alzheimer’s is to live a lifestyle that promotes overall health. Medical science is constantly researching this disease and working towards understanding it better in the hopes of developing a cure or preventive medication.
The current life expectancy for individuals with early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease is between eight and ten years.
Applying for Disability for Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Patients
Due to the nature of this disease, it qualifies as a compassionate allowance through the Social Security Administration. However, patients must still exhibit symptoms that prove that they are no longer able to perform daily tasks at work. This is a two-step process.
First, the SSA will require proof that the individual is having difficulty in one of the following areas:
- Short-term memory
- Social cognition
- Physical coordination
Then, they’ll review to ensure that at least two of the following areas are extremely limited:
- Ability to learn new things and apply them
- Adapting to new situations
- Interacting with others in an acceptable way
The Social Security disability benefits application process can be challenging for early-onset Alzheimer’s patients and their loved ones. If you have questions or need help, Disability Associates is available. Give us a call today at 410.686.2227 or contact us on the website for more information.