To Have Alzheimer's at 38

Maclean's writes about a couple's struggle with diagnosis, symptoms, treatment
By Brownie Marie,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 20, 2015 11:30 AM CDT
To Have Alzheimer's at 38
R. Scott Turner, professor of neurology and director of the Memory Disorder Center at Georgetown University Hospital, points to PET scan results that are part of a study on Alzheimer's disease.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Alzheimer's in your 30s? It's possible, and a 38-year-old's wrenching struggle with the disease is detailed at the Canadian site Maclean's. Joël Aubin was already experiencing severe symptoms by the time he was 36 years old, but wasn't diagnosed for another 18 months. His susceptibility is due to a genetic mutation that also caused his mother's death from the same disease at age 47. "Jo’s teenage world had been ripped from its frame then, but he had grown up with no idea that he had a 50/50 chance of inheriting the same fate," reporter Shannon Proudfoot writes. A genetic mutation is usually the cause of early-onset Alzheimer's, according to the National Institute on Aging.

Aubin's wife, Robin, watched as her once thoughtful husband became increasingly disoriented, forgetful, and detached. He was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, and put on medication—but little changed. After an ultimatum from Robin, he saw a specialist and was finally diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Although devastated, Robin also felt relief. "We can name it, we can deal with it,” she recalls thinking. More tests and medication followed, along with opportunities for experimental drugs that may slow the disease's progression. As for Aubin himself, Proudfoot writes that he has difficulty expressing himself in detail, but he recalls that "the first time that I realized was shocking." He adds: "It was like I don’t know who I am, I don’t know what I’m saying. I don’t feel like myself because of this disease.” (Read the full story.)

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