A new study published this week has revealed that people are suffering from dementia at a much younger age, with the number of under-65s being treated rising by a third in the past six years.
The findings have sparked a campaign for better treatment for younger patients.
The study, carried out in Scotland, found that the number of people under 65 being diagnosed with dementia is increasing year-on-year, rising from 777 in 2014/15 to 808 in 2015/16.
This was compared to the year 2009/10, when there were less than 600 under-65s diagnosed with the condition.
Dementia expert professor June Andrews said the rise was “almost certainly” down to improved diagnosis of the illness.
“The NHS should be congratulated for identifying these people and giving them help,” she said.
“[But] it does seem incredibly unfair on families having to deal with the tragedy of early onset dementia that they do not get the same benefits as older patients. But local authorities are already struggling to provide the care to which over 65s are entitled.”
Amongst those diagnosed in 2015/16, four were patients aged between 15 and 29, nine between 30 and 39, and 43 aged between 40 and 49.
Scottish Conservative health spokesman Miles Briggs said: “Even though people in those age groups make up a minority of the total cases, we are still talking about hundreds of people receiving treatment each year, and that number is rising.”
Health secretary Shona Robison said: “The Government is committed to protecting free personal and nursing care, and to examining the extension of free personal and nursing care to those under 65. We will continue to take action.”