When Dementia Hits Our Clients in Their 40s and 50s

 

We are an elder care law firm, but we work with individuals and family members of any age who are dealing with a debilitating disease and are in need of long term care. Unfortunately, over the last 5 years we have seen an increasing number of families come to us because their spouse, mother, father, sister or even adult child was diagnosed with dementia at a “young” age. Dementia typically occurs in those over the age of 70; and when someone is diagnosed with dementia in their 40s, 50s or 60s, this is considered early-onset dementia. It seems as if we see more and more families dealing with early-onset dementia every year. We would maybe have 2 families a year in this situation 8 years ago, but now it’s not uncommon for us to see 2 families a month coping with an early-onset dementia diagnosis. Having dementia in your 40s or 50s can be difficult in and of itself; but complicating the situation even more, it is very likely that these early-onset dementias will be one of the less-common types than Alzheimer’s disease. For 75% of individuals living with Frontotemporal Dementia, their symptoms began before age 65. Since atypical dementias present differently, require unique interventions, and progress unexpectedly, finding the proper care providers and resources can be difficult. Having a dementia diagnosis before reaching retirement age adds an extra layer of stress financially. Most of our clients in this situation were forced to stop working even though they were not financially, socially, or psychologically ready to do so. This can be financially and emotionally devastating. Our clients who are in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, usually have teenage or college-age children, and their spouses usually still work fulltime and run a busy household. The extra stressors experienced by families dealing with early-onset and atypical dementias require our team to approach these families with a specialized approach to meet their complex needs. We are usually helping these families transition their loved one into communities (e.g., assisted living communities or nursing homes) where they are the youngest resident by two decades and to where the care staff is uneducated about the needs of individuals with early onset or atypical dementia. Most care facilities are not prepared to address the special needs of a younger patient, especially if their behavioral symptoms are difficult to manage, and atypical dementia may predispose a resident to have more behavioral issues in communities. In addition to finding good care, paying for such a high level of care is expensive and figuring out how to pay for such care can be frightening for most families. The VA and Medicaid rules are different for those under 65, and families in their 40s and 50s may have a mortgage, underfunded retirement accounts, and dependent children to worry about. Our experienced team of certified elder law attorneys, public benefits specialists, and care coordinators is ready to help more families in this situation—we have walked this rough journey alongside many families dealing with early-onset and atypical dementia and can be reached at (404) 843-0121. Our phone consultations are always free, and we can also be reached by email at info@hurleyeclaw.com

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