Under 65 with — and living with — Alzheimer’s

Although it’s uncommon, Alzheimer’s can strike people younger than 65. According to Glenn Smith, a neuropsychologist at the Mayo Clinic, only five percent of people who have Alzheimer’s disease develop early onset symptoms. This can be a scary thought for people in their 40s or 50s, supposedly in the prime of their lives.

For a real-life example of this, the Omaha World-Herald just published a profile about a husband and wife who faced Alzheimer’s together. The story really tugs at the heart strings as well as sheds light on how early-onset Alzheimer’s is especially taxing for those suffering from it and for their families. One of the biggest concerns, the article points out, is the difficulty in finding caregivers and appropriate help, as many services are typically catered to elderly people. Not to mention that the spouse is likely to still be in the middle of a career.

The article tells the story of Liz (the wife), who was diagnosed with early onset at the age of 57. She and her husband, Terry, decided to do whatever it might take to keep her dignity and to enjoy being husband and wife for as long as possible. Over the years, Liz’s symptoms gradually worsened as Terry took on more and more caregiving responsibilities. As sad as it may be, Alzheimer’s is a disease with no cure, and thus it eventually claimed Liz’s life. However, while Liz was still able, the couple remained active — joining Alzheimer’s support groups, traveling to Washington D.C. to share Liz’s story with Nebraska lawmakers, even embarking on a dream vacation to Egypt and Israel.

Related: Alzheimer’s patients giving thanks

Although rare, Liz and Terry’s story is similar to many others who must take on the burden of early-onset Alzheimer’s. But with the help and support of the ones you love, there couldn’t be any better way to share the load.

Do you have a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia? Share some of your stories about the journey with us in the comments or on Twitter.

Encompass Senior Solutions currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the available care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or licensed clinical social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today for help with your senior care needs.

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