Diagnosis of Pre-Senile Dementia
- An Australian government fact sheet explains that pre-senile dementia applies to a number of conditions that cause memory loss and affect brain function. In some cases, the cause is Alzheimer's disease; in other cases, brain damage from alcohol abuse, degenerative brain disease or accidental injury may cause the condition.
- According to the Mayo Clinic, about 200,000 people may have pre-senile dementia linked to Alzheimer's. The condition can develop as early as age 30, but is more common among people in their 50's.
- Early warning signs for pre-senile dementia include increasing forgetfulness, confusion about dates, times and places, difficulty concentrating and personality changes, including mood swings. A lack of confidence and a tendency to forget common words may also be an indicator. Of course, many of these factors are associated with normal aging, so by themselves they are not a cause for undue stress.
- Doctors use a variety of methods to diagnose early onset dementia. The first course is to rule out other medical problems that may cause temporary confusion or memory loss. The next step is to review the patient's personal and family history for evidence of a tendency to dementia. Brain scans and a neurological exam may reveal physical changes in the brain that confirm the diagnosis.
Prognosis After Diagnosis
- In general, the course of dementia and Alzheimer's can be slowed, but not reversed. Medications and cognitive (thinking) exercises may help the patient remain relatively functional for some time. The time frame of the disease varies by individual. Over a course of years, however, dementia patients will experience increasing memory loss and fewer periods of lucidity (mental clarity and awareness). Ultimately, the loss of brain function may prove fatal.
- Early onset dementia is often seen as a rapidly progressing form of dementia. Based on the available evidence, the Mayo Clinic says pre-senile dementia does not progress faster than Alzheimer's disease in older people.