Dementia: Inappropriate sexual behaviour could be an early sign

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People with dementia often struggle with memory loss, which is the most well-known symptom. But the condition often causes far more pervasive issues. Many people watching a relative decline from the disease will see their relative’s behaviour change. One specific form of dementia is even known to cause “hypersexuality” and “inappropriate sexual behaviour”.

In a study, published in BMJ Case Reports, Alper Evrensel, a researcher from the Department of Psychiatry at the Uskudar University, İstanbul and his colleagues wrote: “Hypersexuality and inappropriate sexual behaviour (ISB) can often be observed in patients with dementia syndromes and especially in those with frontotemporal dementia (FTD).”

The case report shares details of a 55-year-old man who was taken to the psychiatry clinic by his wife, who had requested a divorce. After further inspection, he would go on to be diagnosed with FTD.

The man had been relishing in sexual behaviours that his wife deemed “incompatible with his age and strange”.

They wrote: “According to his wife, he had started to spend more time on the computer using social media (Facebook, etc) to chat with women whom he did not know before and was staying up all night.

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“He had an increased demand for sexual intercourse from his wife and had started to watch pornography.

“Their frequency of sexual intercourse was once or twice a week previously. He masturbated frequently, indifferent to whether his wife or anyone else saw him. His wife found this ‘incompatible with his age and strange’.”

Frontotemporal dementia is a form of dementia that affects the front and sides of the brain – known as the frontal lobes.

The frontal lobes are critical parts of the brain for processing information and regulating how we behave and control our emotions. In other words, they’re responsible for our inhibitions.

The NHS explains: “Like other types of dementia, frontotemporal dementia tends to develop slowly and get gradually worse over several years,” explains the NHS.

But surprisingly, the behavioural symptoms can spring up without any cognitive problems.

According to the case report, the 55-year-old man and his wife had “not reported any cognitive decline”.

It was through several tests, including an MRI scan of his brain that doctors were able to identify the condition.

These are not the only behavioural changes that can occur in people with dementia.

Researchers have found that people with dementia are extremely prone to behavioural changes, with roughly 97 percent suffering from behavioural symptoms.

Yasir Al Khalili, the author of a study entitled Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms in Dementia, wrote: “Behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) include a range of neuropsychiatric disturbances such as agitation, aggression, depression, and apathy.”

Other common early symptoms of dementia include difficulty concentrating, struggling to follow a conversation and being confused about time and place.

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