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FAU research reveals the costliness of young-onset dementia

Those affected by the disorder can often find themselves out of work.

Charles+E.+Schmidt+College+of+Medicine.+Photo+courtesy+of+Wikimedia+Commons
Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Benjamin Paley, Senior Staffer

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Those diagnosed with a form of young-onset dementia may end up losing as much as half of their income, according to a study led by FAU.

The research showed that the early form of dementia can force patients and their caretakers to leave their jobs prematurely, resulting in lost income.

“Most patients with this disease are working age and have to leave the labor force during their peak earning years,” said James Galvin, associate dean for clinical research in the College of Medicine in a press release. “Caregivers of these patients also may need to alter their careers to provide care. Combined, these factors contribute to substantial decrease in household income.”

James Galvin, associate dean for clinical research in the College of Medicine. Photo courtesy of College of Medicine.

This differs greatly from patients with Alzheimer’s Disease, who are usually retired adults with a financial support system already in place.

Research showed that the average annual household income one-year before FTD diagnosis was between $75,000 and $99,000. After diagnosis, the average goes down to $50,000 to $59,999.

The study also found that women are more likely to have higher direct-care costs since they are more likely to stay in a nursing home or an assisted living facility.

Participants were asked to rate how patients and caregivers were dealing with the resources they were able to get. A majority of the caregiver respondents were female and a majority of patient respondents to the survey were male.

Forty-five percent of caregivers were still employed when the survey went out, in contrast to 37 percent of caregivers who were no longer employed after the patient’s FTD diagnosis. In addition, only 3.3 percent of patients were still employed.

My research focuses on neurodegenerative disorders,” Galvin said.  “I have studied the social impact of [this] disease for over 25 years. This project was a natural extension of that work. I had done a number of survey studies in Alzheimer’s disease and Lewy body dementia and was approached by the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration to conduct this survey.”

The full findings of the study are published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Benjamin Paley is a senior staffer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email bpaley@fau.edu.

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