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Dementia symptoms: Signs of frontotemporal dementia – are you at risk?

Dementia symptoms depend on a person’s experience of the condition, the parts the brain that are damaged and the disease causing the dementia. The four most recognised types are Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia and frontotemporal dementia. Frontotemporal dementia is an uncommon types of dementia that mainly affects the front and sides of the brain, causing problems with behaviour and language. With there currently being no cure for dementia, it’s important to recognise the symptoms of all types of dementia.

Many people with frontotemporal dementia develop a number of unusual behaviours they’re not aware of


Symptoms of frontemporal dementia

A range of different symptoms are associated with this type of dementia, but in the early stages, personality and behaviour changes and language problems are often most prevalent.

The NHS says: “Many people with frontotemporal dementia develop a number of unusual behaviours they’re not aware of.”

These unusual behaviours can include:

  • Being insensitive or rude
  • Acting impulsively or rashly
  • Loss of inhibitions
  • Seeming subdued
  • Losing interest in people and things
  • Losing drive and motivation
  • Inability to empathise with others, seeming cold and selfish
  • Repetitive behaviours, such as humming, hand-rubbing and foot-tapping, or Routines such as walking exactly the same route repetitively
  • Overeating, a change in food preferences, such as suddenly liking sweet foods, and poor table manners
  • Neglecting personal hygiene

As the condition progresses, people with frontotemporal dementia can become socially isolated and withdrawn.

Language problems people with frontotemporal dementia may develop include:

  • Using words incorrectly – for example, calling a sheep a dog
  • Loss of vocabulary
  • Repeating a limited number of phrases
  • Forgetting the meaning of common words
  • Slow, hesitant speech
  • Difficulty making the right sounds to say words
  • Getting words in the wrong order
  • Automatically repeating things other people have said

Some people gradually lose the ability to speak, and can eventually become completely mute.

The health body adds as frontotemporal dementia progresses, problems with mental abilities and physical problem may occur.

These problems can include difficulty working things out and needing to be told what to do, difficulty swallowing and loss of bladder control.

What causes frontotemporal dementia?

While other types of dementia show a strong link with ageing, frontotemporal dementia is much more likely to run in families.

“About one third of people with the condition have some family history of dementia,” according to Alzheimer’s Society.

“About 10–15 per cent of people with frontotemporal dementia have a very strong family history of the condition, with several close relatives in different generations affected.

“This pattern is most common in the behavioural type of frontotemporal dementia and least common in semantic dementia.”

How to prevent dementia

The exact cause of dementia is unknown, but a number of risk factors have been linked to the condition, such cardiovascular disease.

Leading a healthy lifestyle and taking regular exercise can help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Alzheimer’s Research UK recommends the following lifestyle changes:

  • Don’t smoke
  • Keep active and exercise regularly
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet
  • Only drink alcohol within Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines – don’t drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis
  • Keep cholesterol and blood pressure at a healthy level

Lewy body dementia has a collection of different symptoms – one may appear when a person sleeps. 

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