NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The 2015 Sony Classic movie "Still Alice" brings worldwide attention to younger-onset Alzheimer's.
The Alzheimer's Association is bringing the facts about younger onset dementia to an East Texas audience.
Ann Marie McDonald, the chief program officer for the Houston & Southeast Texas Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association shared a story about an English professor who couldn't write something as simple as an e-mail.
"And for someone like that they think, 'Oh maybe it is a brain tumor or something, but they aren't thinking Alzheimer's, McDonald said.
The Alzheimer's warning signs for those 65 and younger can be misdiagnosed. Suspicions of drug abuse even arise when things like improper word association are noticed.
"You say to me, 'I saw the Rockets game last night,' and I say, 'Yeah, you know rockets, I noticed that guy came back from the space station,'" McDonald said.
And what about all those times keys are misplaced? Should a person worry?
"It just depends on how many times you forget your keys and whether or not this is something you cannot find your keys again after you've forgotten them," McDonald said.
The red flags can be caused by any number of things. Clint Conner's job is to educate and encourage East Texans to talk with their doctor should concern arise.
"The sooner we're able to get that diagnosis, the sooner those patients are able to go in for treatment," said Clint Conner, the outreach coordinator for the Houston & Southeast Texas Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association. "While currently there is no cure, there are medications to treat symptoms of Alzheimer's disease."
In the United States, it is estimated that about 200,000 people have early onset Alzheimer's.
To learn more about younger-onset Alzheimer's, you can click on an Alzheimer's Association page that has all sorts of useful information on the subject.
That's why Burke found it so important to share their Mission Possible conference with the Alzheimer's Association. Alzheimer's and dementia are physical ailments, rather than mental issues.
However, mental anguish can consume the caretaker, particularly when the disease has a younger-onset.
For 21 years Burke and other mental and health care advocates have sponsored Mission Possible.
Over the years, the day-long conferences have educated advocates and consumers about the latest mental health findings.
Today at the 2016 conference at Stephen F. Austin State University more than 300 conference-goers were in attendance. Over 25 breakout sessions were offered.
The one titled "Understanding Addiction" had some people sitting on the floor in order to gain the information.
Consumers are advised to seek knowledge, too.
"Get involved with learning as much as you can about mental health issues," said Paul Jackson, Burke community relations. "Learn about the programs that are available to help and if someone has a family member with a mental health condition getting help early is always the best."