Young onset dementias

by Dr Aijaz Ahmed, Dr Michael Jubb, Dr Rumana Chowdhury and Dr Ben Alderson


This is a substantial revision of a previous module by Dr Kate Jefferies and Dr Niruj Agrawal. The authors acknowledge their contribution.


Last updated: May 2018


Lishman defined dementia as 'an acquired global impairment of intellect, memory and personality but without impairment of consciousness'.


Young onset dementias present before the age of 65 years. They are much rarer than dementia in later life and there is a wider differential diagnosis. Preferred current terms for this group of conditions have moved from 'early onset' to 'young onset' or 'working age' to avoid confusion with the use of the word 'early' for the initial stages of dementia generally.


Accurate diagnosis requires a comprehensive assessment and investigations. It is important to identify any treatable causes of dementia, as well as genetic conditions which may impact on the family of the patient. Longer-term support is also vital to help manage the cognitive, neuropsychiatric and behavioural symptoms that often accompany these disorders.


This module looks at:


  • the different types of dementia which can present in people of working age


  • how to arrive at an accurate diagnosis including:

– history taking with collateral information

– neuropsychological and neurological review

– consideration of physical health causes

– further investigation with structural and functional imaging

– other newer test modalities


  • current options for treatment and management.


Start the module



Please note: This module previously had the title Early onset dementias.


If you like this module, you may also be interested in:


Dementia: capacity, empowerment and conflicts of interest by Professor Cornelius Katona and Dr Gill Livingston


Neuroimaging in dementia by Dr Dane Rayment, Dr Lauren McCluskey, Prof Iain Lyburn and Dr Tarun Kuruvilla


Alcohol-related brain damage by Professor Kenneth Wilson, Dr Joy Bell and Dr Vanessa Craig


Huntington's disease by Dr George El-Nimr and Dr Darren Carr 



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