LEESBURG, Florida (AP) — The aging of the massive post-World War II baby boom generation in the U.S. is casting light on early onset dementia, a sorrowful subset of younger people experiencing a slow, cruel overtaking of their minds.
About 200,000 Americans under 65 are among the 5.4 million Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Experts’ estimates suggest there’s a similar number of younger people with other types of dementia, meaning about a half-million Americans, some as young as their 30s, suffer from early-onset or younger-onset dementia.
The number of people suffering from all types of dementia is rapidly increasing because of the aging of the baby boom generation — the 78 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964 — though there’s no sign the percentage of younger people with dementia is going up.
Doreen Watson-Beard is one of the tiny minority. And she has seen the disease from two sides
The nurse cared for more people with dementia than she could count. She was so moved by her patients that she led Alzheimer’s support groups. She knew the warning signs and understood there was no cure.
But the 49-year-old never thought the disease would affect someone her age.