‘I thought my teenager had Long Covid – it turned out to be dementia’

Ms Robertson said problems began in June 2019, when the pair were involved in a car crash. In June 2020 they both fell severely ill with COVID-19.

Although both recovered from their initial symptoms from both the crash and Covid, things took a turn for the worse in September 2020 when Gianna returned to school.

Ms Robertson said she went straight from the top to the bottom of the class in a matter of weeks. She said: “All of a sudden, she went from being a straight-A student to me crying and begging a teacher to pass so she could graduate.

“The doctors thought it could be stress and prescribed her antidepressants, but it didn’t work. If she was asked why she hadn’t done her homework, she would say she didn’t remember.”

At first, the pair thought Gianna could be suffering from brain fog and the long-term effects of COVID-19, but during one conversation, Ms Roberts realised it might be something more serious.

She said: “It was more than brain fog; it was a lack of emotion. She just started drifting away. I asked her what was the happiest moment of your life, and she just looked confused and said ‘I don’t remember’.”

As 2020 turned into 2021 Gianna continued to deteriorate. She withdrew from friends, stopped doing her homework and would fall asleep as soon as she arrived home from school.

Fast forward to November 2022 and Ms Robertson took her daughter to see a neurologist where they found there was no activity in her right central lobe and she was diagnosed with dementia.

Ms Robertson said: “I felt like someone had just punched me in my heart. I sat there stunned. I thought this can’t be true, she’s only 19. I never thought it could be dementia – not in my wildest dreams.”

She added: “Every day I see a little bit of her fade away. I try not to associate my feelings with it because I’m so focussed on getting her better, but I’m scared to death. I’m not going to give up on my kid. I can’t give up. Hopefully, we’ll find a new doctor who can help.”

Ms Robertson said she prays there is a treatment out there that can give her some home. She said Gianna “doesn’t laugh anymore. She doesn’t get out of bed. Whatever you ask her, any time of the day or night, she just says ‘I don’t remember’.”

She added: “The saddest part is it doesn’t bother Gianna. There’s no emotion there. None. She’s 100 percent apathetic.”

Gianna is one of thousands of patients living in the UK and USA with a form of dementia known as young-onset dementia.

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Charity Alzheimer’s Society said: “Like all people with dementia, younger people may experience a wide range of symptoms, especially in the early stages of dementia. However, they are likely to need different support from older people.”

They added: “The causes of young-onset, or early-onset dementia are similar to the diseases that usually cause dementia in older people.

“However, some causes, such as frontotemporal dementia (FTD), are more common in younger people.

“Dementia in younger people often has different symptoms, even when it’s caused by the same diseases as in older people.”

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