5 million people in the US have Alzheimer's disease. More than 200-thousand of them have what's called Younger-Onset. Mary Read is one of them. The Lancaster county woman, now 53, started showing signs in her 40's and while working as a nurse, Mary started to get forgetful. She says her co-workers called her stupid and made fun of her, until management finally let her go.
Candy Yingling, who works for the Alzheimer's Association Greater PA Chapter says situations like Mary's are not that uncommon, because doctors can have a difficult time diagnosing young patients. "One of the persons I've worked with, it took them over 2 years to get a diagnosis because the doctor coudln't imagine that their patient at the age of 47 could have Alzheimer's disease," Yingling said.
Dr. Jon Bentz, a neuropsychologist at Lancaster General Health says once a patient is diagnosed, there are medications to help their brain function more effectively, but they are only a temporary fix. "It certainly isn't a cure, the goal of those mediciations are to slow down the rate of decline that otherwise might be experienced," said Bentz.
Mary decided to not let her diagnosis be a death sentence, so she decided to keep busy. She even started an Alzheimer's support group called Memory Cafe at Saint James in Lititz, for other people struggling with the disease. "It helps them out, but it also helps me out," she said.