Doctor shares early red flag signs of young-onset dementia

Alzheimers Research UK explain 'what is dementia?'

A doctor has outlined the red flag dementia signs in younger people as they are less likely to experience memory loss as one of their first symptoms. This comes as the Alzheimer’s Society warns that thousands of people in England could be living with undiagnosed dementia at a younger age.

Recent data confirmed that 34,412 people in England have been diagnosed with young-onset dementia, which first appears before the age of 65. However, the Alzheimer’s Society raised concerns that not enough people are getting a diagnosis.

The charity claimed the true figure may be closer to 53,606 younger people with the mind-robbing condition. Their estimates suggest there could be 19,194 living without a diagnosis and support.

James White, Alzheimer’s Society’s Head of National Influencing, said: “One in three people born today will develop dementia in their lifetime. Yet we know that many people aren’t being diagnosed, which means they’re not able to access vital support and treatments. 

“It’s a common misconception for people to think of dementia as just an older person’s condition, and it’s even more challenging that the first signs of young-onset dementia can be hard to recognise or not obvious. Often, they’re put down to other factors such as stress, difficulties with relationships or work, or the menopause.

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“Until now, NHS England didn’t have a clear picture of how many people have young-onset dementia as they weren’t fully collating diagnoses. With this new data, we’re on the way to building a better understanding, but we believe the numbers published today don’t reflect the true picture.”

Therefore, Dr Tim Beanland, Alzheimer’s Society’s Head of Knowledge, told what to look out for. Contrary to popular belief, the doctor explained that memory loss might not be the first to ring alarm bells.

Dr Beanland said: “Dementia is often mistakenly thought of as only affecting older people. So spotting the first signs of young onset dementia can be a challenge, particularly if people aren’t sure what to look for.

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“Younger people with dementia are less likely to have memory loss as one of their first symptoms and may instead experience problems with behaviour, language, vision or personality. People can also have problems with movement, walking, co-ordination or balance.”

Because of the nature of these symptoms, they can be put down to other factors like stress, difficulties with relationships, work, or the menopause, the expert warned. He said: “If you feel like something isn’t right, please contact your GP.

“If you are seeing any of these symptoms and are concerned about yourself or a loved one, Alzheimer’s Society is here to help with advice and support. Visit our website for more information.”

White explained that this new data finally offers a clear picture of how many people have young-onset dementia as the NHS wasn’t previously fully collating diagnoses. He said: “Based on estimates we share with other dementia charities, we believe there is a really worrying gap between the thousands of people in England we estimate are living with young-onset dementia, and those that have actually been diagnosed.

“That leaves friends, loved ones, colleagues, and their families struggling to get by without the right support and help.” White added that while getting a dementia diagnosis can be daunting, it will help you in the long run.

He said: “We need more people to know the symptoms and to seek help from their GP. We’re also urging the Government to make dementia a priority – having access to an early, accurate dementia diagnosis is absolutely vital.” 

You can visit Alzheimer’s Society ( for more information or contact their support line on 0333 150 3456.

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