Difficulty Resisting Impulses Could Be a Sign of Frontotemporal Dementia

There are a wide variety of signs and symptoms of different types of dementia, and science is still discovering new ones on a regular basis. Today, let’s talk about one of the symptoms of frontotemporal dementia that may be hard to spot if you don’t know to look for it.

According to the National Institute of Aging (NIA), a common symptom of frontotemporal dementia is difficulty resisting impulses to touch objects that one can see and reach.

“For example, a person picks up the phone while walking past it when the phone is not ringing and the person does not intend to place a call,” explains the NIA.


Essentially, when a person with frontotemporal dementia sees an object that they’re familiar with using or touching in a particular way, they’ll likely go ahead and do the behavior they’re accustomed to without much thought. This is generally a harmless symptom, but it could become dangerous if the person tends to do things like turn on the stove or oven and then forget that they did it.

Frontotemporal dementia affects the frontal and temporal lobes, which are located in the front and on the sides of the brain. These areas are responsible for language and behavior, so symptoms like memory loss are often not the first sign of this type of dementia.

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If you know what to look for, however, you can help a loved one receive an early diagnosis so that they can try out treatments, get involved in clinical trials, and do the things they want to do with their lives before they lose more brain function.

Other behavioral signs of frontotemporal dementia could include compulsive eating, a loss of social inhibitions, or perseveration—the tendency to repeat a word or behavior over and over. Many people also experience language problems, such as loss of vocabulary, halted or slow speech, repeating things others have said, forgetting what common words mean, or using words incorrectly or in the incorrect order.

“Some people gradually lose the ability to speak, and can eventually become completely mute,” explains the NIA.

Photo: Adobe Stock/Oleg

People with frontotemporal dementia may also suffer from a decrease in their executive function abilities, meaning they’ll struggle to properly plan a task or create a logical sequence of events.

If you believe someone you know may be exhibiting signs of dementia, please encourage them (or even bring them) to see their doctor right away. “It’s usually very helpful to have someone at the consultation who knows you well and can give the specialist another perspective on your symptoms,” adds the NHS.

One in every two or three people with frontotemporal dementia has a family history of the disease. If someone in your family is diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, it’s a good idea to get yourself checked at regular intervals as you age. Also, let other family members know that they may be at risk.

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