If you attended the Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Atlantic Station on September 29th, you may remember seeing Nate and Pat Newlin onstage during the opening ceremonies. Pat and Nate were 49 years old when Nate was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Due to his symptoms, Nate lost his job, the majority of the couple’s income, and their health insurance. Nate was approved for Social Security disability, but he is still in the waiting period for Medicare.
The Walk was an emotional experience for Pat. “It was very powerful to be around so many people who were united for the cause to defeat Alzheimer’s. It made us feel supported and encouraged. And I hope our story let younger people who are dealing with this disease know that they are not alone.”
There are approximately 200,000 people in the US with younger onset Alzheimer’s disease. The disease is considered to be younger-onset if an individual is age 65 or younger when symptoms first appear. There are many issues that younger-onset individuals experience due to their younger age (e.g., children living at home, employment issues). Some additional ones include:
- Difficulty obtaining a diagnosis. Younger-onset individuals may have a difficult time obtaining an accurate diagnosis due to:
- Younger age and healthy appearance lead some physicians to rule out AD
- Attributing Alzheimer’s symptoms to stress
- Diagnosis of depression or other psychiatric illness
- Conflicting diagnoses from different health care professionals
- Financial challenges. Due to the age of younger-onset individuals, insurance and other benefits may be more difficult to obtain and there may be more expenses to consider. Financial challenges may include the following:
- Loss of income and insurance coverage when no longer employed
- Reduction or loss of retirement benefits due to early retirement
- Delay in the eligibility for Medicare or disability
- Increase in family expenses due to treatment and care for diagnosed individual
- Spouse may need to work or increase hours to help support the family
If you are dealing with younger onset AD, we are here to help. Please visit our website at http://www.alz.org/professionals_and_researchers_early_onset.asp or give us a call 24/7 at 800-272-3900.