Early-Onset Dementia: Types, Causes, & Symptoms

young caretaker and dementia patient

Early-onset dementia is a difficult condition to navigate. Whether dementia affects you or a loved one, you want to do everything in your power to respond appropriately. This starts with understanding what the condition is along with what its types, causes, and symptoms are. Keep reading to learn more about early-onset dementia so you’re equipped with the knowledge you need to seek out the best possible care.

Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s


Dementia is an overarching category that includes various symptoms related to cognitive decline—such as memory loss, difficulty with language, and behavioral changes. This condition affects millions of Americans each year in increasing numbers. Dementia can either develop on its own or be caused by more serious conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease.


Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that falls under the dementia umbrella. It’s characterized by dementia symptoms that worsen over time. As the most common type of dementia, Alzheimer’s currently affects over 6 million Americans. By 2050, roughly 12.7 million people aged 65 or older are expected to be diagnosed.

Signs & Symptoms of Early-Onset Dementia

Early-Onset Dementia affects adults younger than 65 years of age. It’s common for people with early-onset dementia to present one or more of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Memory degenerationdementia brain scan
  • Increased confusion
  • Lack of concentration
  • Poor judgment
  • Reduced focus
  • Behavioral, personality, or language changes
  • Struggle to complete daily tasks
  • Depression 

These signs aren’t always easy to detect, especially in the beginning stages of dementia development. That’s why it’s crucial to be aware of behavior changes and know what to do when you detectthem.

Top 5 Symptoms & Causes of Early-Onset Dementia

Another term used to describe early-onset dementia is young-onset dementia. This condition can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms are less apparent in younger adults.

Young-onset dementia is associated with five primary causes and symptoms:


  1. Alzheimer’s
  2. Lewy body dementiaMistakes
  3. Vascular dementia
  4. Frontotemporal dementia
  5. Alcohol abuse


  1. Memory loss
  2. Poor communication
  3. Lack of focus
  4. Language decline
  5. Impaired reasoning

Understanding Mild Cognitive Impairment

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) describes the period between natural cognitive decline in adults and the development of dementia. This condition is a warning sign that dementia is on the horizon.

MCI symptoms include:

  • Frequent forgetfulness
  • Constantly feeling overwhelmed by everyday decision making
  • Difficulty navigating familiar environments
  • Poor judgment and/or impulsiveness

MCI may be accompanied by one or more of the following conditions:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Aggression
  • Apathy 

Expert Dementia & Alzheimer’s Care in Oakbrook Terrace, IL

If caring for a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s has become more than you can handle, Terra Vista is here to lend a helping hand. We’re an all-inclusive memory care assisted living community that provides 24-hour personalized memory care services to help your loved one feel right at home. You’re never alone in this process. Terra Vista is there to help you and your loved one every step of the way. Schedule a consultation today to speak with a memory care expert about your next steps.

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Meet the Author


Natalie has compiled over eighteen years experience providing outstanding care to people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. In addition to being a certified Alzheimer’s and dementia care trainer, McFarland is a licensed continued education instructor for nurses and social workers through the Illinois Department of Professional Regulations. She has also developed several Alzheimer’s research partnerships. Included in those projects were Dr. Virginia Cruz, Ph.D., RN, Associate Professor of SIUE and Dr. George Grossberg, M.D., Medical Director of the Department of Psychiatry and Neurology at Saint Louis University. Natalie is a graduate of Southern Illinois University.