Nearly 71,000 people in England are living with early onset dementia, according to new figures.
Data from charity Dementia UK suggests the number with the condition may be increasing. Only 28,000 were recorded as having it in 2014.
Also known as young onset dementia, it refers to when symptoms develop before age 65.
Dementia UK says it is frequently, and wrongly, thought of as a condition associated with old age and that early symptoms may be mistakenly attributed to causes such as depression, the menopause, and stress.
“We know that young onset dementia is poorly recognised and misdiagnosed, which leads to delays in accessing crucial support,” said Dr Hilda Hayo, the charity’s chief executive.
“Worryingly, the figure of 70,800 adults who are estimated to be living with the condition in the UK may just be the tip of the iceberg.
“Dementia is a huge and growing health crisis and, with rising numbers, it is now more urgent than ever that families receive the specialist support they need.”
The figures are based on analysis of GP data and are published in the Journal of Dementia Care.
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Dementia symptoms dismissed as ‘just getting old’
Dementia is an umbrella term for a range of conditions that cause a progressive decline in someone’s ability to think, reason, communicate and remember.
Personality, behaviour and mood can also be affected.
Early symptoms of young onset dementia may not include memory loss, and symptoms can vary depending on which parts of the brain are affected.
Only a third of dementias in younger people are of the Alzheimer’s type, compared with about 60% in older groups.
Symptoms in younger people may include changes in:
- personality and behaviour
- speech and language
- vision and balance
- social functioning
- relationships with others
- involvement in daily activities
- motivation and mood eg. depression, anxiety, concentration levels
- decision-making and problem-solving
More information can be found In Dementia’s UK factsheet