Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a group of disorders that occur when nerve cells in
the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain are lost. This causes the lobes to shrink.
FTD can affect behavior, personality, language, and movement.
is one of the most common dementias to strike at younger people. Symptoms often start
between the ages of 40 and 65. But FTD can strike young adults and those who are older.
FTD affects men and women equally.
The most common types of FTD are:
less common form of FTD affects movement. It causes symptoms like Parkinson disease or
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease).
cause of FTD is unknown. Researchers have linked certain subtypes of FTD to mutations on
several genes. Some people with FTD have tiny structures, called Pick bodies, in their
brain cells. Pick bodies have an abnormal amount or type of protein.
family history is the only known risk for FTD. Experts think that some cases of FTD are
inherited. But most people with FTD have no family history of it or other types of
Symptoms of FTD start slowly and progress steadily, and in some cases, quickly. They
vary from person to person. They depend on the areas of the brain involved. These are
people have physical symptoms, such as:
Mental health symptoms also may
occur. These include hallucinations or delusions. But these are not as common as other
Family members are often the first to see small changes in behavior or language skills.
It’s best to see a healthcare provider as early as possible to talk about:
single test can diagnose FTD. Often, healthcare providers will order blood tests and do
physical exams to rule out other health problems that cause similar symptoms. If they
think it may be dementia, they may:
this time, no treatments can cure or slow the worsening of FTD. But your healthcare
providers may suggest the following to help treat symptoms:
may also see speech and language pathologists and physical and occupational therapists.
They can help you adjust to some of the changes caused by FTD.
is not life-threatening. People may live with it for years. But it can raise your risk
for other illnesses that can be more serious. Pneumonia is the most common cause of
death, with FTD. People are also at higher risk for infections and injuries from
FTD gets worse, people may take part in unsafe behaviors. Or they may be unable to care
for themselves. They may need 24-hour nursing care or to stay in an assisted living
facility or nursing home.
Coping with FTD can be scary, frustrating, and embarrassing for the patient and family
members. Some symptoms can’t be controlled. So family members shouldn't take their
loved one’s behaviors personally. Families need to care for their own well-being, while
making sure that their loved one is treated with dignity and respect.
Caregivers should learn all they can about FTD. They should look for a healthcare
provider who knows about it, too. They should also gather a team of experts to help the
family meet the health, financial, and emotional challenges they are facing.
Other healthcare providers who may play a role are:
Attorneys and financial advisors can help families get ready for the later stages of
Advanced planning will help smooth future changes for the patient and family members.
It may also allow all to take part in the process.
is little solid evidence that antioxidants and other supplements help those with FTD.
You and your family members should talk with your healthcare provider about whether to
try any of them, such as coenzyme Q10, vitamin E, vitamin C, and B vitamins to support
you are diagnosed with FTD, you and your caregivers should talk with your healthcare
providers about when to call them. Your healthcare provider will likely advise calling
if your symptoms become worse, or if you have obvious or sudden changes in behavior,
personality, or speech. This involves mood changes, such as depression or thoughts of
It can be very stressful for a
caregiver to take care of a loved one with FTD. It's normal to have feelings of denial,
anger, and irritability. Caregivers may also have anxiety, depression, exhaustion, and
health problems of their own. Caregivers should talk to their healthcare provider if
they have any of these signs of stress.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider: