Dementia is normally thought to be something that happens in later years but younger people can be affected.
A new team dedicated to supporting people under 65 across the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area who have developed dementia has been set up to offer patients support and advice.
The Young Onset Dementia Service is made up of two clinical psychologists, an occupational therapist (OT), community psychiatric nurse (CPN), and secretarial support.
In line with the recent National Dementia Strategy the service aims to specifically address the post diagnosis needs of younger people with dementia.
The team’s clinical psychologist Dr Claire Donaghey explained: “Dementia can affect some people in their fifties or even younger.
“Our role is to ensure continuity and a more co-ordinated approach so that people under 65 years with a diagnosis will receive a similar service to patients aged over 65, while recognising they may have very different needs.”
According to figures from Alzheimer Scotland there are an estimated 400 younger people across Greater Glasgow and Clyde with dementia.
Claire added: “The numbers are relatively small but the need is high. Dementia is not on the radar of someone in their fifties, they see it as an older person’s diagnosis and people in this age group do not regard themselves as an older person.
“So when people in this age group receive a diagnosis it comes as a complete shock and out of sync with social expectation.”
As well as offering support to patients who have been diagnosed with dementia, the team recognise that family members and carers may also experience difficulty. They will also work with family members and carers from a psychological perspective around distress or carer burden issues, with Occupational Therapy and nursing playing a role.
Claire added: “Assessment and diagnosis are hugely important, and we are providing a full post diagnosis service to maximise quality of life for patients, family members and carers.”
The main early sign of dementia is memory loss but the condition can also affect attention, language, abilities such as planning and organisation, and personality.
Patients may experience symptoms of depression or anxiety or both, and the team will work therapeutically with them to help overcome these symptoms.
Jill Carson, Adult Services Manager, added: "I am delighted to see the launch of this service which will provide much needed support for younger people with dementia.
“A diagnosis of dementia can be distressing at any age, but for younger people the challenges can be different, particularly where the person is still in work or where there are young children in the family.
“The new service will provide specific expertise to address these issues."
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Notes to Editors
Referrals to the service will come through adult community mental health teams (CMHTs), older people’s community mental health teams (OPCMHT), or Rehabilitation and Enablement Services (RES).
As well as receiving support from the Young Onset Dementia Service, younger people with a diagnosis of dementia and their families will also be offered support from the recently developed Dementia Post Diagnosis Service. This includes a dedicated link worker who will provide support, information, advice and signposting across a range of key issues including Power of Attorney.
Pic from left: Dr Claire Donaghey (Clinical Psychologist), Pasna Sallis (OT), Phillipa MacGregor (Admin Support); back l to r: Julie Pinkerton (CPN), Dr Eleni Morfiri (Clinical Psychologist