The Growing Need for Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Care
When people think of Alzheimer’s they often think of an elderly person who has problems with memory. The majority of people with Alzheimer’s are over the age of 65 but approximately 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 have early-onset Alzheimer’s. People with early-onset Alzheimer’s can begin to develop symptoms in their 30s, 40s and 50s. Developing symptoms of Alzheimer’s is challenging at any age but can be particularly difficult for those in the prime of adulthood.
Here are some of the common challenges those with early-onset Alzheimer’s may face:
It is common for those with symptoms of early-onset Alzheimer’s to be misdiagnosed. Doctors may diagnose them with other neurological disorders or they may have atypical symptoms that doctors don’t connect with Alzheimer’s because of their age.
Support for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia are often built into aging services, thus requiring those qualifying to be of a certain age. Those with early Alzheimer’s and their families that need services aren’t old enough to qualify and need to pay for services out of pocket. This can be very challenging as many with early-onset Alzheimer’s are also dealing with loss of income due to the disease.
Services Focused on Older Adults
Facilities that offer services for those living with Alzheimer’s are focused on older adults. The daily schedule, activities provided and the food offered are all tailored to the older adult population. This can be challenging for those with early-onset Alzheimer’s and their families to feel like they are getting the services and support needed.
Organizations within the adult health industry need to develop programming and support tailored to the needs of those with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at a younger age can be devastating for families. It’s critical that they receive the same level of care, support and resources that we provide older adults.
Call to Action
In order to develop the appropriate programming and resources to help those with early-onset Alzheimer’s we need to raise awareness for the issue. Legislators also need to be aware of the growing need to provide younger populations with Alzheimer’s services and that funding needs to be available to help those diagnosed and their families.
This year marks Cooperative Elder Services 40th Anniversary. While it is a pivotal moment in our history, it also provides us with the opportunity to look forward as to what is needed in the adult day health industry for the next forty years.
We are committed to providing programming and services for adults with medical and cognitive challenges and believe age and funding should not be barriers to care. As we look to 2019, raising awareness and developing programming for early-onset Alzheimer’s will be a strategic priority for our organization and we call on others within the industry to join us in developing services for this growing population.
Cooperative Elder Services, Inc.