Husbands, Wives. Sons. Daughters. Parents. These are the people under the age of 65 who have received a diagnosis of dementia. Young Onset Dementia, Working Age Dementia, Early Onset Dementia – call it what you will. It is a frightening, confusing diagnosis. After all, most are employed. Many have mortgages and younger families. They are actively engaged in their daily routines. How in the world can this be happening? And what symptoms lead the family doctor to turn to more specialist advice?
Relatively few specialist services exist for younger people with dementia. Depending on where one resides, a person may be referred to a psychiatrist, a geriatrician, a neurologist and/or various combinations of health professionals. Additionally, specialist groups like the Alzheimer's Association campaign for better services and provide support and advice for young men and women with Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
Undoubtedly, the newly diagnosed are pioneers and traveling in unknown territory. Singer, Glen Campbell, championship coach, Pat Summitt, author, Michael Ellenbogen and millions of others need our help and they need it now. Today, there is no cure and no known way to slow its progression. Worse yet, the disease can easily bankrupt our health system if we do not get involved and act now.
How we can be helpful at this time is to get educated; learning what we can and supporting research efforts is a good start. Also, look to politicians to amend the Social Security Act to provide for Medicare coverage of comprehensive Alzheimer's disease and other dementia diagnosis and services in order to improve care and outcomes for Americans living with Alzheimer's disease.
September is World Dementia Awareness Month. From 2012, national Alzheimer associations, people with dementia and advocates across the world will join together by raising awareness of dementia in their own country throughout September. A range of activities will take place in all regions of the world, with events such as Memory Walks, awareness-raising concerts, enjoyable events for people with dementia and their caregivers, and informative sessions both for the general public and for health care professionals. World Dementia Awareness Month developed, due to popular demand, out of World Alzheimer’s Day, which takes place every year on 21 September.