Alzheimer’s disease often develops slowly over several years, so symptoms are not always obvious at first. In young-onset Alzheimer's symptoms start to affect someone's ability to carry out every day activitites.

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

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 find carrying out daily activities harder, this can affect performace at work, driving and socialising.
  • 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.
  • 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 young-onset Alzheimer’s progress faster?

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, so symptoms get worse over time, but it is difficult to know if people with young-onset Alzheimer's decline faster. There is some evidence that it may progress faster and more aggressively, but experts are unsure whether this is true for everyone. Every person’s experience and progression of symptoms is different.

Some doctors fail to recognise mild symptoms of young-onset Alzheimer's and this can mean diagnosis in younger people can take much longer, this can make their progression seem faster. Research to find better methods of early detection will help to improve diagnosis for younger people.

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.


Order health information

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.

Was this information helpful?

Let us know what you think by filling out this short survey.


Dementia Research Infoline

Want to know more about dementia? Keen to get involved in research studies?

Contact the Dementia Research Infoline,

9am-5pm, Monday to Friday

0300 111 5 111