Alzheimer’s often develops slowly over several years, so symptoms are not always obvious at first.

While some symptoms can be similar to those of late-onset Alzheimer’s, they can also appear in more unusual ways in younger people. This can make it more difficult for people, families and doctors to recognise.

Symptoms can include:

  • Memory problems that interfere with everyday life. This may include forgetting messages or recent events that would normally be remembered, or repeating questions.
  • People may become confused in unfamiliar situations and lose a sense of place and time.
  • People may become low in mood, irritable, lose their confidence or show less interest in activities they used to enjoy. These may be subtle at first.
  • Difficulty finding the right words and communicating. This is called aphasia.
  • People can have difficulty recognising objects and judging speed or distance. When visual problems are a leading symptom, the cause may be posterior cortical atrophy, a rare type of Alzheimer’s disease

Will early-onset Alzheimer’s progress faster?

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, so the symptoms get worse over time, but it is difficult to know. There is some evidence that early-onset Alzheimer’s may progress faster and more aggressively, but experts are unsure whether this is conclusive. Every person’s experience and response to the disease is different.

Difficulties with diagnosis in younger people may mean that they are diagnosed later, making their progression seem faster. Research into better methods of detection will help to improve early diagnosis.

Early-onset Alzheimer's

This leaflet aims to give an introduction to early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. It’s for anyone who might be worried about themselves or somebody else.


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Alzheimer’s Research UK has a wide range of information about dementia. Order booklets or download them from our online form.

This information was updated in March 2020 and is due for review in March 2022. It does not replace any advice that doctors, pharmacists or nurses may give you. Please contact us if you would like a version with references.

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