Dementia symptoms: Does your partner find this funny? Disturbing warning sign

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DEMENTIA symptoms vary depending on the region of the brain affected so memory loss is not always the first warning sign. One warning sign of frontotemporal dementia is a newfound sense of humour that can be sinister.

Am I at risk?

Dementia is an umbrella term for a cluster of conditions associated with brain damage. There are many types of dementia and they are distinguished by the area of the brain that they affect. Frontotemporal dementia, for example, affects the front and sides of the brain (the frontal and temporal lobes).

The frontal and temporal lobes play a major role in language and emotions.

When these areas are damaged, it is common for people to experience problems with behaviour and language.

“Eventually, most people will experience problems in both of these areas,” according to the NHS.

The behavioural variant of frontotemporal dementia is the common type, says the Alzheimer’s Society (AS).

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During the early stages, changes are seen in the person’s personality and behaviour.

One casualty of the behavioural variant of frontotemporal dementia is a loss of sympathy or empathy, says the AS.

This may take the form of a reduced sense of humour or laughing at other people’s misfortunes.

As a result, people with the behavioural variant can appear selfish and unfeeling, adds the AS.

Other behavioural changes can include:

  • 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
  • A change in food preferences, such as suddenly liking sweet foods, and Poor table manners
  • Compulsive eating, alcohol drinking and/or smoking
  • Neglecting personal hygiene.

“As the condition progresses, people with frontotemporal dementia may become socially isolated and withdrawn,” says the NHS.

Am I at risk?

It’s not fully understood the mechanisms that may increase your risk, but there’s often a genetic link.

For behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia, one in every two or three people with the disease could have a family history, according to Alzheimer’s Research UK.

“Scientists have found a number of faulty genes that can cause inherited forms of frontotemporal dementia, including tau, progranulin and C9ORF72,” explains the health body.

If your doctor suspects a strong family link, you may be offered a genetic test and close relatives may be offered genetic counselling, it notes.

In cases of frontotemporal dementia where there is no family history, the risk factors are not yet fully understood and research is underway to find out more.

Research has shed some light on the lifestyle factors that may influence your risk.

One study determined that diabetes Mellitus may be an independent risk factor for frontotemporal dementia.

Diabetes mellitus, commonly known as diabetes, is a metabolic disease that causes high blood sugar.

What’s more, another study suggested that obesity is a shared risk factor for frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, while smoking plays various roles as a risk factor for both.

Am I at risk?

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