Many have the misconception that Dementia is a natural part of ageing…IT IS NOT!
Another common misconception is that Dementia is only prevalent in later years, again IT IS NOT.
Dementia, although not as frequent, can be diagnosed from any age and in the UK alone there are over 42,000 people with Dementia that are under the age of 65, which is around 5% of those with Dementia.
The challenges faced by those with a diagnosis of Young Onset Dementia are often significantly different to those diagnosed with Dementia at a later stage of their life.
Some of those challenges include:
Having to decide whether they can continue to work
For those that are still employed when receiving their diagnosis of Dementia, they will be faced with the unenviable task of speaking with the employer and discussing with their family and medical professionals to see exactly what they can continue to do, what they should expect and whether any work is possible and if so, for how long.
It may be that hours need to be reduced, roles need to change or adjust to capabilities, or perhaps work will need to stop completely.
Reducing hours, or stopping work altogether, can have a big impact not only financially (which we explore a little later) but also emotionally, physically and in terms of keeping the mind active. Without a daily routine and work to prepare for and keep you busy throughout the day we can often see a much quicker decline where there is not something else keeping the mind active and the person physically active and busy.
Having a bigger financial burden
A diagnosis of Dementia for someone that is still working and still has a mortgage to pay can be devastating and bring a big financial (not to mention emotional!) burden that was never expected.
For many, their mortgage is the largest expense and if you are forced to give up work then your finances are bound to be lower. Some will be covered by Income Protection or other insurances which will be welcomed at such a difficult time, but for others the loss of an income due to an inability to work can be devastating.
It may also be the case that a spouse or partner, perhaps even an adult child, has to give up work or reduce their hours to help with the care. This may not be immediate but may be required as the Dementia progresses and as the needs of the person living with Dementia increase. This is something that will need to be carefully planned for as again, this could decrease the household income further.
Those that are diagnosed with young onset Dementia may still have people that rely on them, whether that be children, a spouse or partner, perhaps even their own parents or other loved ones and this can be difficult to navigate following a diagnosis of Dementia when it is inevitable that the care that they themselves will need will increase.
Receiving a diagnosis at any age is not ideal and comes with its challenges at any age BUT don’t forget…YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
There are places, groups, organisations and people that can help and support you through this, so please reach out.