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Do younger people deteriorate quicker?


Registered User
Oct 20, 2004

Well, me again, Happy New Year to you all!

Have just spoken to my Dad and Mum isn't feeling too great....she's got the cold...probably from me. Hope she picks up as they go away for the weekend this weekend.

Anyway, my point, the nurse told Dad that generally people that are diagnosed younger deteriorate quicker than those that are diagnosed later in life. As far as I understood, each case is different and things like this can't be predicted. I'm a little annoyed as he seems to be quite upset by this....and it's also going to worry me too.

In anyone's experience, do younger people deteriorate faster?

It's now a year since Mum was diagnosed and while she's not the person she used to be, neither Dad or I feel that the deteroriation has been as bad as we expected (although we both know the really bad stuff will come). She's more forgetful and doesn't want to be on her own anymore (where before she was very independant). I can't explain but she's not the same, although to a lot of people they think she's fine....I'm sure you'll all know what I mean.

Mum know's that she has AD and we worry that she's hiding things from us...we can't decide if it's good that she's fly enough to do that or not!

Rambling, again, I'll stick with the original question...to the best of people's knowledge is she likely to deteriorate quicker than someone older?

Thanks again for your continued support!


Registered User
Jan 31, 2004
near London
Hi Mandy

It depends on what you mean by 'deteriorate quicker'.

They seem to fight it more, so there is more turbulence very often. Yes, I think they seem to get worse more quickly - in my experience. Also, because they are younger, one expects more of them of their faculties, and the deterioration seems more marked more quickly.

However, every case is an individual one.


Registered User
Oct 20, 2004
That's a very fair point, that because of their age we'd expect more. That's pretty much what Dad said on the phone, him and Mum had been heading home from a visit to friends between Christmas and New Year. Mum hasn't been coping well with car journeys in the dark, we think it's the lights. She starts to panic and wants out saying that 'things are coming at her'.

Dad said that the taxi driver thought she'd had a few too many drinks and needed to be sick and was going to stop. Dad explained what was wrong with Mum and the taxi driver (who Dad said was very understanding) slowed the car down (no mean feet for many taxi drivers....sorry to any on here!) which calmed her down. I'm sure people don't imagine that this happens to younger people (I wasn't particularly aware of it till it happened to Mum)...with the exclusion a few years ago of a younger woman I think, on Comic Relief that had it, I'm sure that they showed her again a year later and I remember thinking that it was a terrible thing to happen to someone so young. Little did I know then....

Could be a situation that we percieve that they should be more capable than they are.

I also agree that regarding 'fighting it', because Mum knows she has it...she was there when the Doctor told both of them. She has said she knows it'll get her eventually, but she has said (and I quote) "it's not getting me without a fight". I hope (and pray) that we'll have her for as long as possible, I just find it hard to accept that she'll slip away from us.....but I'm getting better at it.

I keep reading the posts here and it's very humbling to see how well people cope in the worst possible circumstances...helps me to give myself a good shake!



John Bottomley

Registered User
Apr 7, 2004
Not true.

Some types of dementia do affect principally younger people, and are pretty awful in their course, but most dementia is not necessarily worse simply through onset being at an earlier age.

Strikingly, it can be quite the converse, with Alzhemier's disease running a course of over 20 years.

As Brucie, said,
However, every case is an individual one.
Our user group for young onset dementia works hard at maintaining a positive outlook and keeping active. Maybe it's this attitude, maybe it's the drugs, maybe it's the rehearsals done for the testing, but as a group overall things have remained pretty stable over the last year (with the group's average MMSE score remaining pretty static).


Registered User
Sep 16, 2004
Dear Mandy
My husband was 51 when he was finally diagnosed, that will be six years in March. I know that a lot of the young people at his day centre have gone down hill quicker but he has not, he still dresses himself (buttons wrong, zips undone etc), people we talk to don’t immediately know there is anything wrong, what I am trying to say is don’t worry to much, not everyone is the same and there are more treatments now.
Enjoy what you have while you have it and try not to think about next week or next month.
I think I had better take that advice myself, I’m better at giving it than taking it.

Colin Cosgrove

Registered User
Mar 10, 2004
Hi Mandy,

I've been asked this question so many times, and I've never found a satisfactory answer. Earlier papers on younger people with dementia used to say there was a more rapid progression, but you don't see this so much anymore.

Two things complicate the situation for me:

First, as far as I can gather, the progression of a person's dementia is measured from the point of diagnosis. Presumably, 20 years ago when awareness of dementia in younger people was even worse than it is today, diagnosis would only come at a point where symptoms had advanced significantly. If younger people are being diagnosed earlier, then it stands to reason that their progression won't be as quick as it was assumed to be 20 years ago.

Second, when only around a third of younger people with dementia have Alzheimer's, you're looking at a very wide range of conditions, with their own rates of progression. It doesn't make sense to me to predict the progression of a group of people whose diagnoses and circumstances will be so very different.

I don't think there's much point in making a distinction between younger and older people here. It's an individual thing, and no-one can predict the course of your illness just from knowing what age you are.

All the best,


Registered User
Oct 20, 2004
Thanks for all your replies, Colin a lot of what you say makes sense logically.

I think I'll go for the hopeful option that it will be longer (in spite of every case being different!)

Better to aim for the best, she'll take longer to deteriorate and if Dad and I can both try to look for the positive in this awful mess.