More than 40,000 men and women in the UK are living with young onset dementia. But according to the Alzheimer’s Society, people in Wales who have developed the condition at a younger age aren’t getting the help and support they need.
Wales currently has the worst dementia diagnosis rates in the UK. Only one in every two people who have the condition here has been formally diagnosed.
Sue Phelps, head of Alzheimer’s Society Cymru, has told ITV Wales that people who develop dementia in middle age are often misdiagnosed.
Low diagnosis rates mean the actual figure of people in Wales under the age of 65 living with dementia could be even higher.
Developing dementia at a young age can put huge financial and emotional pressure on families. As well as the anxiety of knowing there’s no cure for the condition, there may also be children to look after, a mortgage to pay and dependent parents to care for.
Karen Kitch from Llanharry, Rhondda Cynon Taf, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 51.
Living with dementia has brought huge changes for the family. Karen no longer works, which has put the family’s finances under pressure. Her husband, Jason, is doing his best to make ends meet.
Earlier this year the Welsh Government launched a dementia action plan for Wales which recognises the challenges faced by younger people with dementia. That plan also aims to improve diagnosis rates in Wales year-on-year.
You can see more on this story in Wales This Week: Memory Matters. Tonight at 8pm on ITV Cymru Wales.