Charity issues dementia misdiagnosis warning after South Yorkshire dad, 40, dies of devastating illness

Gareth Wilmot died of dementia at only 40 years old (Photo: SWNS)
Gareth Wilmot died of dementia at only 40 years old (Photo: SWNS)
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A charity has warned that young people with dementia risk having their symptoms misdiagnosed following the death of a 40-year-old South Yorkshire man this week

Gareth Wilmot, from Barnsley, became one of the youngest people to die from dementia when he lost his five-year battle with frontotemporal dementia on Monday.

The illness usually affects patients between the ages of 45-65 but the popular teacher first began to show signs of the degenerative illness at just 35-years-old.

However, doctors originally diagnosed Gareth with depression and it was only as the illness progressed that "alarm bells" started ringing about his true condition.

Dr Hilda Hayo, chief admiral nurse at Dementia UK said that there is a problematic misconception that dementia only affects older people.

As a result, younger people like Gareth, risk having their symptoms mistaken for other conditions including depression.

She said: “A diagnosis of dementia in your thirties remains very rare and it can be very challenging to get an accurate diagnosis.

"The problem is that the public – and GPs – tend to think dementia always means memory loss, or that it only affects older people.

"However, as younger people tend to have rarer types of dementia the signs and symptoms can be different and may include, behaviour, personality and mood changes.

"These symptoms can be mistaken for other conditions such as stress, anxiety, depression or relationship problems.

"This can lead to a delay in an accurate diagnosis being given for months, or in some cases years, which leads to added pressure on the family and can result in the breakdown of relationships, employment and social networks.”