Dementia symptoms: Early signs of frontotemporal dementia include apathy


Dementia is an umbrella term for a group of brain disorders that get progressively worse over time. The nature of the symptoms depends on the region of the brain affected. That helps to explain why memory loss is not always the first warning sign.

According to UCSF Health, the following symptoms can indicate frontotemporal dementia:

  • Apathy or an unwillingness to talk
  • Change in personality and mood, such as depression
  • Lack of inhibition or lack of social tact
  • Obsessive or repetitive behaviour, such as compulsively shaving or collecting items
  • Unusual verbal, physical or sexual behaviour.

At the UCSF Memory and Aging Center, doctors found a small group of frontotemporal dementia patients developed new creative skills in music and art.

The artistic talents developed when brain cell loss occurred predominantly in the left frontal lobe, which controls functions such as language.

“It is believed that the right side of the brain regulates more abstract reasoning,” explains UCSF Health.

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How to respond

The NHS says: “See a GP if you think you have early symptoms of dementia.”

The health body continues: “If you’re worried about someone else, encourage them to make an appointment with a GP and perhaps suggest you go with them.

“The GP can do some simple checks to try to find the cause of your symptoms, and they can refer you to a memory clinic or another specialist for further tests if needed.”

Am I at risk?

There are a number of risk factors for dementia you cannot change but increasing evidence points to ways you can influence the risk.

Unfortunately, the biggest risk factor for dementia is ageing.

“This means as a person gets older, their risk of developing dementia increases a lot,” notes the AS.

“For people aged between 65 and 69, around two in every 100 people have dementia.”

Genes are a another risk factor you cannot change.



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