FTD, shortened for Frontotemporal dementia, is a common cause of dementia. This disorder occurs when nerve cells in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain are lost. This causes the lobes to shrink.
FTD is one of the most common dementias that affect people who are younger. Symptoms often start between the ages of 40 and 65, but FTD can also occur in young adults and those older. FTD affects men and women equally.
The frontal and temporal lobes of the brain play a significant role in decision-making, behavior, personality, language, and movement. Symptoms can be similar to Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and psychiatric problems.
Because of these symptoms, people with FTD are often misdiagnosed. There are other related diseases that are not FTD but share the same types of symptoms.
People will become aware something is wrong when they exhibit certain changes they can’t explain. The first is often changes in behavior. Often a disregard for social norms and taking risks or being impulsive.
These changes can also include apathy, loss of sympathy or empathy, and repetitive or compulsive movements. They may have problems making decisions or make bad decisions.
It can also affect their diet, as well. Compulsively eating or not eating at all. They may think they are hungry, forgot they ate, or change the things they eat.
There can be difficulties or changes in language, reading, and writing. There is often a decline in the ability to communicate. Using the wrong word, or forgetting the names or words for things.
There will often be changes in their physical ability, as well. There may be a sense of weakness, or of slowing down. Perhaps certain activities are now difficult, like climbing stairs, getting their shoes on or even walking.
During a neurological exam, the doctor may find some slowing of some eye movements, changes in their normal reflexes and muscle stiffness or slowness.
They may also experience muscle spasms. This could lead to them falling feeling clumsy and like they are walking through water.
Cause and Treatment
Experts are not exactly sure what causes FTD. They do believe that it comes from a mixture of genetic, medical, and lifestyle factors.
About a third of all cases of Frontotemporal degenerations are inherited. Genetic counseling and testing are available now in individuals with family histories of FTD.
As to treatments, there are none for treating the disease itself. There are, however, medications to allow the patient to cope with the symptoms. Both pharmacologic and behavioral interventions are used.
Most caregivers and medical professionals will recommend non-pharmaceutical measures first.
Caring for someone with FTD will be a challenge. They may exhibit radical behavior, make poor decisions, and be difficult to communicate with. You will need help.
In the early days, you will need help in the home where they are living. As their symptoms get worse, a memory care home is your best choice for them and for you.
It can be doubly difficult, as FTD affects people that are middle-aged. They may still have children at home, be holding down a great job, and have responsibilities in their community.
This can be very problematic for them at their workplace. Before being diagnosed, there can be many thongs that can go wrong, causing damage, and making mistakes.
These changes will be very difficult for the person who had FTD. Even after the diagnosis, they will become frustrated, angry, and over-emotional. The decline, both physically and mentally, will be devastating.
It is vital that you get help wherever you can. For the patient, have daily help to come in and help you cope. If there are children in the home, they will need extra support in coping with this happening to their parents.
As a caregiver or support, you also need your own outlet. Get community support where you can. Day clinics or drop-ins, groups for you to join to share and financial supports, as well.
As the disease progresses, you will need to move the patient to a place where they will receive the best care. A memory home care facility has all the resources they need.
They will receive the best care and have support around the clock. It can be too overwhelming to cope as a family or on your own. A memory care home will have expertly trained and experienced staff.
You will all rest easier knowing that your loved one is getting the care they need. FTD is very difficult when it takes someone much younger than we expect.
It requires a lot of adjustment for everyone to cope and keep coping. It’s also important to stay current on the disease to understand what the patient is going through. Learn how you can best cope with the rest of the family.
In honor of our founder Pat Mack, we are carrying on the tradition of caring for our residents in
"The Light Heart Way"