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Dementia of the “young old”: Sudden cravings can be a warning signal

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Dementia of the “young old”: Sudden cravings can be a warning signal

Dementia is often associated with symptoms such as forgetfulness and confusion. But other symptoms can also be in the foreground. This is the case, for example, with brain diseases that fall under the term frontotemporal dementia (FTD). According to the “Alzheimer Research Initiative”, it is a rare form of dementia and largely affects people under the age of 65 (70 percent). This is why it is also called dementia of the “young old”. A few days ago, US presenter Wendy Williams made her diagnosis public. US actor Bruce Willis also declared at the beginning of 2023 that he suffered from this disease.

Frontotemporal dementia manifests itself in changes in personality – and in eating

FTD is noticeable, among other things, through changes in personality, social behavior and linguistic skills. It can also show up in very specific situations – namely when eating. Finally, FTD can change the eating habits of those affected.

It is possible that they eat and drink significantly more than before, eat food in a compulsive or inappropriate manner, or only consume selected foods. Binge eating, i.e. binge eating, as well as food cravings, a strong desire for sweets or carbohydrates and poor table manners are also possible signs.

FTD patients show altered eating behavior more often than those affected by Alzheimer’s

Several studies have also proven the changed eating behavior. For example, a 2011 study by the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, compared the eating habits of 18 people diagnosed with early-stage FTD with those of 16 healthy volunteers. The researchers led by Olivier Piguet found that only dementia patients tended to eat excessively, had a preference for sweets and increasingly consumed the same foods.

The results were independent of age, gender or duration of the illness. However, the significance of the study is limited due to the very small number of study participants.

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In addition, an older study from the University of Cambridge in 2002 showed that FTD patients differed in their eating behavior from people with Alzheimer’s disease – the most common form of dementia. Accordingly, appetite and eating habits changed more frequently in those affected by FTD. They also often had a food preference. However, those affected by Alzheimer’s and FTD reported swallowing problems equally frequently.

Symptoms of frontotemporal dementia

In addition to the changed eating behavior, there are also other symptoms that indicate frontotemporal dementia:

Disinhibition: Those affected insult other people, stare at strangers, touch them inappropriately, steal or are aggressive. Apathy: Interest in hobbies and personal relationships decreases, personal hygiene is neglected. Loss of empathy: Those affected find it difficult to empathize with other people and understand their emotions. Dramatic experiences such as deaths do not affect them. Compulsive behavior: Certain words or sentences, movements and rituals are constantly repeated. FTD patients also tend to hoard things. Problems organizing everyday life: Solving problems and making decisions poses challenges for those affected. They may have difficulty concentrating and make unusual mistakes at work or make strange financial deals. Loss of ability to speak, understand, read and write Restlessness Frequent and sudden mood swings

This is how you can reduce your risk of dementia

You can still actively do something to reduce the risk of dementia. According to current research results, 40 percent of Alzheimer’s diseases alone can be prevented through an active and healthy lifestyle and preventive health care.

We have put together twelve risk factors that everyone can pay attention to in order to prevent dementia.

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1. Movement: What’s good for your heart is also good for your brain. This includes getting enough exercise – at least 2.5 hours per week is ideal.

2. Mental Fitness: Learn new things – even as you get older. This keeps your brain busy. Whether it’s a musical instrument, a language or using a computer, try something new.

3. Healthy diet: Follow the classic Mediterranean diet. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, olive oil and nuts. Choose fish instead of red meat.

4. Social contacts: Activities are more fun as a couple or in a group and your gray cells are challenged. Arrange to meet up to do sports, play music, play cards or cook together.

5. Reduce excess weight: Be careful not to weigh too many kilos. A healthy diet and regular exercise will help you with this.

6. Enough sleep: Make sure you get good, sufficient sleep so that the brain can break down harmful substances and recover.

7. Don’t smoke: Smoking also damages your brain. Stop smoking, it’s never too late.

8. Avoid Head Injuries: Take care of your head in everyday life and during sport and, for example, wear a helmet when riding a bike.

9. Check high blood pressure: Have your blood pressure checked regularly. High blood pressure should definitely be treated.

10. Check Diabetes: Keep an eye on your blood sugar levels. If it is permanently too high, you should take action in consultation with your doctor.

11. Pay attention to hearing loss: Take it seriously if you notice that your hearing is getting worse. With a hearing aid you can easily correct declining hearing ability.

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