Dementia: The sign of brain decline that can be spotted in the face ‘in the early stages’

Dr Hilary warns about missed dementia diagnoses in July

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Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) denotes a host of diseases characterised by the deterioration of the front and side regions of the brain. FTD is among the most common dementia to strike at an earlier age. Patients often present with strong social issues that deeply affect their everyday life. Some of the early telltale signs of the condition could be spotted on the face.

Dementia cases are projected to increase by a staggering 75 percent in the UK by 2050, bringing the total number of cases to 1.6 million.

Doctors believe diagnosing the condition in the initial stages is key for more effective treatment, so knowing the warning signs is imperative.

In FTD, portions of the frontal and temporal lobes shrink, leading to marked changes in personality and social behaviour.

This is because nerve cell loss is most prominent in the areas that control conduct, judgement, empathy and foresight, among other abilities.

READ MORE: Dementia: Four types of fish that could cause ‘rapid’ and ‘unexpected’ mental decline

One significant change that may appear in the earlier stages of FTD, may show in a sufferer’s facial expressions.

VeryWell Health explains: “Facial expression in people with dementia may be affected, even in the earlier stages.

“The person’s facial expression may be inappropriate to the situation at times, such as laughing in a serious or bad time or sudden tearfulness when there doesn’t seem to be any trigger.

“People with dementia may also reflect feelings of anxiety, depression, agitations, bewilderment or a lack of feelings.”

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What’s more, researchers have previously noted that patients may sometimes show an inability to decode the facial expressions of others.

They often start displaying these changes around the age of 50 or 60, but some cases can develop as early as 20-year-old.

The NHS defines FTD as an “uncommon type of dementia that causes problems with behaviour and language”.

The health body continues: “Dementia is the name for problems with mental abilities caused by gradual changes and damage in the brain.”

Other signs of FTD revolve largely around personality and behavioural changes.

Some patients demonstrate language problems, display slow speech, and struggle to make the right sounds when saying a word.

How to prevent dementia

There’s currently no treatment to cure or slow the progression of FTP, but some drugs can help manage the symptoms.

What’s more, a combination of factors could help preserve cognitive health into old age.

Adhering to a brain-healthy diet can stand the brain in good stead, helping delay cognitive decline.

The most important dietary factors in lowering the risk of mental impairment include fish, olive oil, avocados, fruits and vegetables.

The charity Alzheimer’s adds: “Doing regular physical activity is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of dementia.”

But engaging in mental and social activities can also help to build the brain’s ward off cognitive decline.

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