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What is Frontotemporal Dementia?

Frontotemporal dementia is one of the most common types of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease, Vascular dementia and Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB).

It accounts for around 1 in 30 cases of diagnosed dementia and is caused by damage to brain cells in the frontal and temporal (side) lobes, which together are responsible for our personality, behaviour, emotion and language.

The frontal lobes are responsible for helping inhibition and behaviour regulation, so people with frontal lobe dementia will often exhibit strange or unusual behaviours and personality changes. The temporal lobes are responsible for speech and understanding of language, so any damage to this area can affect communication.

When a person develops Frontotemporal dementia it is because types of protein build up in clumps around the brain cells, causing damage which over time can spread through to different areas of the brain, resulting in increased difficulties for the person with dementia.

Depending on the area of the brain affected, Frontotemporal dementia can be split into some of the following sub-types: the behavioural variant (BvFTD); primary progressive aphasia (PPA); and a specific type of dementia associated with Motor Neurone Disease (FTD-MND).

Who does Frontotemporal Dementia affect?

Frontotemporal dementia can affect both younger and older people, but it is often one of the young onset forms of dementia, with symptoms usually appearing between 45 and 65 years of age.

More common symptoms of Frontotemporal dementia include changes in behaviour, or the person may act impulsively or inappropriately, due to loss of inhibitions.

Initially, in the early stages of any dementia, symptoms can be mild and often difficult to recognise. This is because damage to the different areas of the brain starts gradually, so fewer symptoms are noticeable. With Frontotemporal dementia, the core symptoms that appear during the early stages are difficulty with language and communication, difficulties with focus, planning and problem-solving, and personality and behavioural changes.

Managing Symptoms Of FTD

In the early stages of dementia, many people can stay at home managing independently. Some people may need support and assistance, however it is important to focus on what the person is able to do rather than doing everything for them. Look at ways to adapt tasks, set reminders and prompts and support the person to remain independent.

Some people with Frontotemporal dementia may be prescribed medication to manage the behavioural symptoms. These will not cure Frontotemporal dementia, but in some cases can slow the progression of symptoms. Sometimes people experiencing aggressive symptoms or delusions may be prescribed low dose antipsychotics. These are often prescribed short-term to manage specific symptoms and need to be monitored by a doctor.

Support from occupational therapists, physiotherapists and speech therapists can help with daily tasks and with communication techniques and strategies.

Staying socially and mentally active is also important and engaging in local community activities, especially dementia focused activities, can be beneficial.

As well as following a healthy diet and lifestyle it is important to stay on top of any health conditions and attend regular health checks to avoid any infections or health issues that could impact the dementia. This includes regular hearing and sight tests, as any impairment in these areas can also exacerbate the symptoms.


Further Support

Seeking support from professionals who have a good understanding and awareness of the symptoms and strategies to live well with Frontotemporal dementia can help not only the Person Living With Dementia, but also their carers.

There are lots of strategies and tips to support with different aspects of dementia, which can be found in some of our Dementia Support information sheets.

For further information, contact Sage House and book an appointment with a Wayfinder to discuss any concerns you have surrounding dementia and find out more.



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