Dementia patients are at risk of being misdiagnosed as they can display a wide range of dementia symptoms. These symptoms can differ from the usual ones associated with the most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease.
A specialist in frontotemporal dementia, Jonathan Rohrer at University College, London, claimed that doctors were missing tell-tale signs as they were “stuck on the idea” that memory loss was the main symptom of dementia.
Tens of thousands of patients have types of dementia that present different symptoms which people don’t associate with the disease but could be warning signs.
Warning signs of frontotemporal dementia
- Losing motivation and interest in taking part in activities
- Showing less interest in people and losing empathy with them
- Impulsive and inappropriate behaviour as a result of losing inhibitions
- Stuttering or slow and hesitant speech
- Eating more sweet or fatty foods
- Lack of concern for personal hygiene and care
- Tactless comments and the development of a warped sense of humour
Studies show that people with frontotemporal dementia can wait up to five years for a diagnosis which is two years longer than those with more common types of the disease. The problem is most prevalent among middle aged people and is estimated to affect around 16,000 people in the UK. Up to 40% of patients with the disease have a family history of the condition.
Frontotemporal dementia used to be called Pick’s disease after Arnold Pick, a physician who in 1892 first described a patient with distinct symptoms affecting language.
Different traits or changes in personality and motivation are often being missed when considering a diagnosis. A lack of motivation can often be put down as depression. Other symptoms can be thought to be a mid-life crisis or problems within a marriage.
“People become more irritable, say rude things that are socially unacceptable, as one of the symptoms is loss of empathy towards loved ones,” Dr Rohrer states. “People tend to go to their GP and say, “My partner’s not right” and GPs say “It’s just mid-life” or “You’re not getting on any more.”
“Outside specialist care, people have this old-fashioned attitude of memory being the key symptom.”
Hilary Evans, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “People can still slip through the net.”
It is important to remember that there are several types of dementia including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and frontotemporal dementia. Each of these can present different dementia symptoms so it is vital to check with your GP if you are concerned about the behaviour of a partner or loved one.
If you would like more help and advice please click on the link below to the charity Alzheimer’s Research
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Why not read our earlier article giving more details and dementia symptoms to look out for to ensure as early a diagnosis of dementia as possible.
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