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Younger onset dementia

Two women, a child and a baby sit together on a couch with a cat.

Key points

  • Younger onset dementia is the term used to describe any form of dementia diagnosed in someone under the age of 65.

  • Dementia can affect thinking, memory and behaviour. Brain function is affected enough to interfere with someone’s normal social or working life.

  • People often lead active and fulfilling lives for many years after their diagnosis.

Dementia can happen at any age

About younger onset dementia

Younger onset dementia is any form of dementia in people under the age of 65. It’s sometimes called “early-onset dementia”.

Dementia is a brain condition that can affect your thinking, mood, behaviour and movement. It can have many causes. You can have one or more types of dementia.

Dementia is more common in older people, but people in their sixties, fifties, forties and even thirties can develop it. In 2023 it is estimated there are more than 28,650 people living with younger onset dementia. This figure is projected to increase to more than 42,400 by 2058.

Because dementia is rarer in younger people, it can often go unnoticed. Noticing your signs and symptoms and talking to your doctor as soon as possible helps. The sooner you know, the more you can do.

If you’ve noticed early warning signs in you or someone close to you, talk to your doctor.

There is no medical difference between dementia and younger onset dementia. But if you’re younger, dementia can affect your life in different ways.

Bruce's story

Conditions that lead to younger onset dementia

Find out more about the most common dementia-related conditions on our 'Types of dementia' page.

Dementia expert webinar: younger onset dementia, with Prof Dennis Velakoulis

Diagnosing younger onset dementia

Currently there is no single test to tell if a person has younger onset dementia.

A medical specialist will only make a diagnosis of younger onset dementia after careful assessment. This might include:

  • testing your thinking and behaviour, and how they’re affecting the way you function
  • blood tests
  • brain imaging to find damage from strokes or blood vessel disease
  • an ultrasound to check for damage in your carotid arteries
  • testing your reflexes, senses, coordination and strength
  • memory tests
  • your detailed medical history.

Treatment and management of younger onset dementia

There’s no single treatment or cure for younger onset dementia yet. Researchers are working all over the world, looking for new treatments, and progress is being made.

Occupational therapy can help you adapt to changes in abilities and stay independent and social.

Support is vital for people living with younger onset dementia. The help of families, friends and carers can make a positive difference to managing the condition and living well.

Living with younger onset dementia

Younger onset dementia presents unique social, emotional, financial and support challenges. When you’re diagnosed, you might be:

  • in full-time employment
  • actively raising a family
  • financially responsible for your family
  • physically healthy.

If you have a partner, they might need to take on extra roles, like caring for you while also raising children and managing finances. This may lead to reducing work hours or giving up work altogether.

Dementia expert webinar: younger onset dementia and the caring role, with Dr Wendy Kelso

Other people’s attitudes can be challenging. It can be hard for family and friends to accept that a younger person can have dementia, particularly when no obvious physical changes can be seen. It can lead to losing touch with family, friends and hobbies previous enjoyed.

Children often have strong feelings about dementia and the impact it has on them. They might feel angry, resentful or withdrawn. They might not want to talk with their parents because they don’t want to worry them, or seem like an extra burden. They may prefer to talk to people their own age or to a counsellor.

For more support for children, see our section Dementia in my family.

We have a lot more information and advice in our section Living with dementia section.

How Dementia Australia can help

Whatever your experience of dementia, we're here for you.

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Last updated
1 February 2024