Young Onset Dementia, by Rose Ong

Young Onset Dementia

By Rose Ong 2022. Rose is an active  member and advocate who hosts a DAI Canadian Social Peer to Peer support gor up, and lives in Canada. Thank you Rose,

If you’re looking for a Ph.D.  here, you wouldn’t find one. After surviving a major brain haemorrhage myself at 35 years of age, (while raising a 4-year-old and a new-born infant,) I certainly had some challenges ahead of me. I could not put more than 3 words together for a sentence (I could, however, swear like a sailor whenever it got to be too much for me to handle. Funny how that worked out!). I had lost a portion of my memory, had problems with eye focus and a speech impediment.

I did, however, improve enough to return to college a few years later and achieved my accounting certification. No CCA after my name, but employable. I worked with accounts receivable for 6 years.

Fifteen years after the brain haemorrhage, at 50, I found out I had breast cancer which required 2 surgeries and 6 sessions of chemo over a 3-month period. My oncologist told me I “could” experience some “brain fog” after my chemo, but that it should go away after a bit of time. (Really?) Knowing what I know now about “chemo brain” and dementia, I think I would have opted to skip the chemo altogether and take my chances with the cancer. Why? Because now I am dealing with Young Onset Dementia, and nobody knows how to treat YOD.

No one seems to know what causes Young Onset Dementia or YOD, but I‘d like to throw some ideas out on the table, just for the heck of it.

Through my experiences with health challenges, I have come to see connections between personal health and the compromised world we live in.  Never, in the course of human history has mankind contributed more pollutants and toxins, negatively impacting things like climate change, air pollution, the deterioration of coral reefs and our forests, the quality of our fresh water and oceans to the point that wildlife are dying off into extinction, not to mention what we eat, inhale or use on our skin. Is it any wonder that instances of diseases such a YOD and Alzheimer’s are rising exponentially? Perhaps when we choose to explore the deterioration of our environment, we may begin to see the connections with health issues impacting us at a younger age, such as YOD.

My own experience makes me wonder if we value conquering cancer over its affect on our brain cells. With more emphasis on a holistic approach to health care, is it possible to turn this around?

Did you know that there are over 50 million confirmed cases of dementia worldwide, compared to the 46 million confirmed cases of COVID19 worldwide? If you were to add the undiagnosed cases of both COVID19 and Young Onset Dementia to those numbers, respectfully, the outcome would be tragic. The percentage of COVID19 deaths is relatively very low when compared to the death rate for Dementia at 100%. No one recovers from dementia. Yet.

So why are we not looking more for the causes of dementia than resorting to experimental drugs and eventually filling up our LTC facilities with more and more dementia patients?

This is my debut article of a 10-part series of articles I will be writing about Young Onset Dementia or YOD and how it affects myself and others. I hope you will join me in this journey where we will build some understanding and hope for the future of YOD and ultimately for Alzheimer’s and other mind-altering diseases. Let’s start this conversation with a whole lot of honesty and a lot less bull, because I know a lot of people who are running out of time… and brain cells.

Walk with me.

“In a dark place, we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way” – Yoda