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Dementia is most often associated with memory problems. However, dementia can also have other, often atypical, symptoms. A person with dementia may, for example, develop a black sense of humor or a lack of a sense of shame. What other unusual behaviors might someone with dementia experience? This question is answered by a neurologist, Dr. Gabriela Kłodowska-Duda, MD.

Dementiais a disease with which 46.8 million people live worldwide. It is estimated that every year there are almost 9.9 million new cases of illness, so every 3 seconds another person appears withsymptoms of dementia . And it is not always an elderly person. Early-onset dementia can appear in even 30- and 40-year-olds - an age rarely associated with such diseases. Then, not only the memory problems that are commonly associated with dementia may appear. Dementia can also cause other, often unusual, symptoms.

People with dementia tend to be compulsive

An unusual and quite surprising symptom of dementia is the patient's tendency to be compulsive. - They may feel the need, even compulsion, to repeat certain activities, which take the form of rituals.

Often the cause of dementia is brain disease, especially Alzheimer's disease, which is mainly associated with memory impairment, but this is only one of the symptoms of the disease.

Such a person may, for example, still buy crosswords in the store, despite the fact that he already has a lot of them at home, or eat a meal quickly and greedily - it may result, among others, from from problems with memory, problems with logical thinking or associating facts - says the neurologist, Dr. Gabriela Kłodowska-Duda from the Neuro-Care clinic in Katowice.

- As for all unusual symptoms, any disturbing change in the behavior of our loved one or ourselves should get our attention. People tend to explain this by the aging process. Meanwhile, such behaviors are not natural processes, but a signal of the disease, the development of which can be significantly delayed and the symptoms reduced, adds Dr. Duda.

A peculiar sense of humor can also be a symptom of dementia

Scientists from UCL University found that also a sudden change in the sense of humor, the fact that we are amused by something other than usual may indicateabout the development of dementia. In the pages of "Gazeta Alzheimerowska" they argue that people with frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer's disease tend to prefer situational or absurd black humor.

- Patients may joke or laugh at unusual things, such as tragic events in the news or in their personal lives. Such symptoms are nothing more than the result of pathological changes in the brain that disrupt rational mental processes and the reception of the world, explains Dr. Duda.

Unusual behavior in people with dementia - loss of empathy

The onset of dementia can also be witnessed by a sudden loss of empathy - if a nice and polite person suddenly starts using offensive and inappropriate words, and shows a lack of awareness, shame or regret towards these actions.

According to an expertGabriela Kłodowska-Duda, MD, PhD, neurologist from the Neuro-Care clinic in Katowice

In the early stages of some types of dementia, the patient develops various types of behavioral disturbances. He loses the ability to read social norms of what is right and what is wrong. This applies, inter alia, to patients with frontotemporal dementia or Alzheimer's disease, who frequently change their personality, react inadequately to the situation and behave as if the event in which they were participating did not affect them at all - e.g. inappropriate behavior at a funeral. They do it unconsciously, it is disease and brain processes that are responsible for this type of behavior.

Lack of shame in people with dementia

Lack of shame and embarrassment is another problem. - In patients it manifests itself in many aspects: they do not feel embarrassed if they find themselves in a favorable situation, but also do not understand the embarrassment and uncomfortable situations in which other characters, e.g. the characters of the series, find themselves - says Dr. Duda. - We observe such a disorder, among others in frontotemporal dementia, where - as the name suggests - the temporal and frontal lobes of the brain are damaged. These areas, in a way, "filter" behaviors, allow for their evaluation. As a result of this damage, social brakes may be weakened, personality changes, early disturbances in contacts with others, emotional indifference, and a lack of self-criticism may occur - adds the neurologist.

Atypical symptoms of dementia - disregard of social norms and the law

Some patients in the early stages of dementia may have a disrespectful attitude towards generally accepted social norms, for example, may appear sexually suggestive or behave. Patients may also not obey the law - in extreme situations they mayeven break into houses or steal.

According to an expertGabriela Kłodowska-Duda, MD, PhD, neurologist from the Neuro-Care clinic in Katowice

Due to cognitive impairment, the patient does not realize that he is acting inappropriately. He is not "himself", he can be impulsive and aggressive, but the risk of such situations can be minimized by dealing with him in a specific way, eg by taking care of the daily routine of the day and introducing pharmacotherapy, eg silencing drugs. The most important thing, however, is an accurate diagnosis. Many such patients, as well as those around them, do not suspect that such symptoms indicate a developing neurological disease.

Knowledge gaps and dementia

- Problems with finding the correct word or date are quite common and can happen to anyone. However, if we not only do not remember the name, but also have a problem with explaining what a given item is for, a red lamp should light up - says Dr. Duda. Interestingly, people with early-developing dementia can do well in other areas of life, for example, be professionally active, which in turn lowers their vigilance - explains the specialist.

Frequent falls can be an early sign of dementia

Frequent falls can also be an early sign of Alzheimer's disease. This was confirmed by the 2011 research presented at the International Conference of the Alzheimer Association in Paris.

Each case of dementia is slightly different.

It presents brain scans of older people who were to observe and record the frequency of their falls over a period of 8 months. The results ultimately confirmed that patients displaying Alzheimer's onset fell more frequently. Alzheimer's disease, but also dementia with Lewy bodies and Huntington's chorea - all these diseases with dementia manifest themselves, among others, in incoordination and motor disorders. The latter is a particularly rare genetic disease affecting 1 in 15,000 people in Poland. Its first heralds may be problems with maintaining balance and gradually increasing chorea movements. There is even talk of a dance walk, very unusual with unnatural leg positioning.

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