A diagnosis of dementia is devastating at any age but diagnosis in younger patients presents a particular challenge. The differential diagnosis is broad as late presentation of metabolic disease is common and the burden of inherited dementia is higher in these patients than in patients with late-onset dementia. The presentation of the common degenerative diseases of late life, such as Alzheimer's disease, can be different when presenting in the fifth or sixth decade. Moreover, many of the young-onset dementias are treatable. The identification of causative genes for many of the inherited degenerative dementias has led to an understanding of the molecular pathology, which is also applicable to later-onset sporadic disease. This understanding offers the potential for future treatments to be tailored to a specific diagnosis of both young-onset and late-onset dementia.
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