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  • Shared Experiences

    Family friend with Alzheimers

    Hi, I have just found out that a family friend has been diagnosed with Alzeheimer's but she is not an old person - early fifties. Apparently it is an agressive form of Alzheimer's and doctors anticipate the decline to be very rapid and possibly lead to death.

    I have been very alarmed to hear this as I thought it was a slow progressing disease. I also didn't realise it caused death and I thought it appeared in much older people. I would appreciate any explanation someone can give into this aggressive form of Alzheimer's as I want to understand what our friend is going through so I can offer support in the best way possible.   Many thanks
    • 1 comment
    • Alzheimer's Australia
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    Alzheimer’s Australia is the charity for people with dementia and their families and carers. As the peak body, it provides advocacy, support services, education and … View Profile

    Hi there,

    we are sorry to hear about your friend this will be an extremely difficult time for all involved and any support that you provide will help them. It is amazing how a simple phone call to check how someone is doing will help.

    There are many different forms of dementia and each has its own causes. The most common types of dementia are Alzheimer's disease accounting for between 50-70% of all dementias, Vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy Bodies and Fronto Temporal Lobar Degeneration.

    Every person with dementia progresses at different rates. The progression can last anywhere between 2-20 years. The three phases of the condition are:Early dementia

    The person may lose interest in hobbies, activites, they may not adapt to change easily, they may not be able to follow a conversation entirely and become more forgetful of details. These symptoms are often missed as part of the dementia and the person may be diagnosed with depression or another illness before dementia is considered.Moderate dementia

    In this stage the person may be more forgetful of recent events and become confused with the time and place, they may forget the names of family and friends. Advance dementia

    As this is the last stage the person will generally require 24 hour care - they may lose their ability to understand or use speech, have no recognition of family and friends, they may lose their ability to walk and become immobile and int he final weeks the person in usually bedridden.

    Dementia is the third leading cause of death in Australia. Dementia kills brains cells and eventually this impacts on the parts of the brain that controls the immune system, regulation of breathing and all of the important functions of the body regulated by the brain. For example, if the part of the brain that controls immune system is impaired then people are more susceptible to pneumonia and infections which that may not recover from.

    There are an estimated 16,000 people in Australia with younger onset dementia. These are people under the age of 65 years old. Younger Onset Dementia is often due to a genetic link that is inherited from a parent.

    If you would like any more information please have a look at the helpsheets on our website. You can also call the National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500 and they will be able to give you more specific information.

    Alzheimer's Australia provides, support groups, counselling, information, and carer education so if your friend does need anything do not hesitate to contact the organisation.


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