What Is FTD?
Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) sometimes is called frontal lobe dementia. It affects the parts of the brain behind the forehead and causes behavior changes, difficulties with language or an inability to understand words or recognize familiar faces and objects. Unlike Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia typically does not affect memory or orientation to the same degree. Instead, the most notable symptoms may be changes in behavior or personality, and difficulty with speech and language.
Frontotemporal dementia may run in families and often develops at a younger age — 50s and 60s — than other forms of dementia.
The board-certified and fellowship-trained specialists at Norton Neuroscience Institute Memory Center are at the leading edge of advances in caring for those with frontotemporal dementia.
More patients in Louisville and Southern Indiana trust Norton Neuroscience Institute with their neurological care than any other provider in the area. Patients find a comprehensive range of board-certified specialists who provide a diversity of viewpoints to develop a customized care plan for each patient.
Frontotemporal Dementia Symptoms
The behavioral variant of frontotemporal dementia results in marked changes in behavior and personality and can be misdiagnosed as a psychiatric issue such as depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Or, the affected person can be seen as being selfish, rude or inappropriate. Behavior changes can be impulsive or apathetic. About half the frontotemporal dementia cases are of the behavioral variety.
Other symptoms include:
- Behavioral changes such as hypersexuality, overeating or passivity
- A sudden lack of empathy or caring for family and friends
- Changes in ability to care for self (lack of bathing, not doing laundry, etc.)
Other forms of frontotemporal dementia cause impairments in language. Language effects can include difficulty making or understanding speech. Also known as non-fluent primary progressive aphasia, this form of frontotemporal dementia results in the brain having difficulty controlling the muscles needed to form speech.
The semantic variant affects the patient’s ability to understand words and recognize familiar faces and objects.
The variety of frontotemporal dementia depends on which parts of the frontal or temporal lobes are shrinking.
Frontotemporal Dementia Prognosis
Frontotemporal dementia progresses steadily with significant deterioration in less than two years for some and more than 10 years in others.
Eventually some with frontotemporal dementia will need 24-hour care either at home or in a specialized setting.
There is no current cure or medicine for frontotemporal dementia. It progresses slowly, but it will worsen over time. Treatment for symptoms may include:
- Behavioral or cognitive therapy
- Antidepressant medicine to help with anxiety, aggression or agitation
- Lifestyle adjustments
Norton Neuroscience Institute Resource Center others offer resources to help families and individuals coping with frontotemporal dementia.