Sunday, February 5, 2012

Younger onset Alzheimer's patients stay active

Keeping busy 'gives you a cognitive advantage,' physician says

Younger onset Alzheimer's is diagnosed in those younger than age 65 and strikes 250,000 Americans a year, according to the Alzheimer's Association. "More people are being diagnosed with younger onset," Kerwin said. "Typically, they're in their 50s, but we see them as young as their 30s and 40s."

The first hurdle is often a proper diagnosis, a process of elimination that can take years as doctors tell patients they are too young to have Alzheimer's. Pati Hoffman, 57, of Carol Stream, had to give up the corporate marketing job she loved after Alzheimer's struck her at age 55, but only after an excruciating period of medical tests and ambiguous findings.

She went to so many doctors and had so many tests that her diagnosis was a relief, she said. "They kept telling me it was just stress," said Hoffman, who is now an adviser for the Greater Illinois Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association. "So at least I finally had an answer."


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