Specialists talk about struggles of early-age dementia after Wendy Williams’ devasting diagnosis

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) -. If you have someone in your life who’s living with some type of dementia, then you probably know and have witnessed the challenges when it comes to caring for that person.

Being diagnosed with dementia can be one of the hardest things for a person to cope with but Rafael Pelegrin, whose aunt battled dementia, says the toll it takes on those in that person’s life hurts just as much.

“It’s a lot,” Pelegrin said. “The person is definitely going through their battle with dementia, but it’s a group struggle as well because everyone is impacted in a different way.”

Fans of Wendy Williams and others around the country found out Thursday, that the former talk show host has been diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia.

“Whether you live on Main Street or in Hollywood, the reality is this is a devastating diagnosis,” said Alzheimer’s Association of NC CEO, Katherine Lambert. “Certainly, a change of life for individuals and their caregiving partners.”

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, FTD causes nerve cell damage that leads to loss of function in different brain regions.

Aphasia is the second major form of FTD as it affects things like one’s language skills.

Lambert says Williams’ diagnosis at age 59 raises questions about the difficulties of access for those with dementia, who may be younger.

“There are different realities around Medicare coverage at 65 and older, but not below that age so there are different challenges,” Lambert said.

Pelegrin has experienced the challenges of dementia personally as he says his aunt passed away from it a year ago. He says everyone affected has to be strong.

“Not trying to solve everything all at once,” Pelegrin said. “Also, making sure you’re taking care of yourself as well because their stress becomes your stress as well so make sure your mental health is up to date.”

Actor Bruce Willis was also diagnosed with FTD and aphasia a few years ago.

Lambert believes he and Williams opening up about their diagnosis is a good thing for others battling dementia.

A spokesperson for Williams said she is currently still able to do many things for herself and is receiving the care she needs.

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