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What is Frontotemporal Dementia

Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) is not one of the common dementias we hear about but it is a significant form of dementia that deserves more attention.

Frontotemporal dementia, also known as

key to life
key to life

frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), is a group of disorders under the Dementia umbrella, which cause degeneration within the neuron in the brain. These disorders primarily affect the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. Unlike Alzheimer's disease, which primarily affects memory, FTD primarily impacts behaviour, language, and executive function. It often strikes individuals at a younger age, typically between 40 and 65 years old, although it can occur later in life as well.

Types and Symptoms:

There are several subtypes of FTD, each characterized by individual symptoms:

Behavioural variant FTD (bvFTD): This is characterized by changes in behaviour, personality, and social conduct. Individuals may exhibit socially inappropriate behaviours, impulsivity, apathy, or a lack of empathy.

Primary progressive aphasia (PPA): PPA primarily affects language abilities, leading to difficulties in speech, comprehension, and word finding. There are different variants of PPA, including non-fluent/agrammatic variant, semantic variant, and logopenic variant. These mouthfuls are explained below!

Semantic variant primary progressive aphasia (svPPA): Individuals with svPPA experience difficulty understanding words and concepts, leading to impaired language comprehension and word retrieval.

Non-fluent variant primary progressive aphasia (nfvPPA): This subtype is characterized by effortful speech, grammatical errors, and difficulties with motor speech.

Logopenic variant primary progressive aphasia (lvPPA): lvPPA primarily affects word-finding abilities and sentence repetition, with relatively preserved grammar and motor speech.

Caring for someone with frontotemporal dementia can be incredibly challenging due to the diverse and often unpredictable symptoms. The inability of an individual to find the words they are looking for can be extraordinarily frustrating for the person living with FTD and their carers. Early diagnosis allows for appropriate management and planning of symptoms. You need to see a neurologist or dementia specialist as soon as you can.

Individuals with FTD often benefit from structured routines and clear expectations. Establishing consistent daily routines can help reduce anxiety and agitation. Where communication is hard work you should adapt communication methods to accommodate changes in language and comprehension. Use simple, concrete language, and provide visual cues when necessary. Patience and empathy are key.

If language barriers are not in itself enough, addressing challenging behaviours with empathy and understanding is crucial. Identify triggers and implement strategies to minimize stress. Behavioural interventions, such as redirection and positive reinforcement, can be helpful. Most importantly remember that the behaviour you are seeing is not the person you love, it is the dementia gremlin sitting on their shoulders. Never be embarrassed because of something that happens if you are in public. Your loved one cannot help their actions, they know no better. It is Society that needs to change to accept those living with dementia and the challenges it brings. Simply let people know the situation, that the person you are with lives with dementia and never apologise. There is nothing for you to apologise for.

As we all know the person living with dementia will always be looked after. Invariably it is the carer that is forgotten or left isolated and feeling alone. Help is there for carers and time and space should be made each week for them to have a regular break. Going to the hairdressers or a coffee with friends is a must. Extra care can be arranged to cover these breaks which are absolutely vital. Carers are usually very reluctant to ask for help as they see caring for their loved one as a responsibility they must bear. So, if you know someone caring for a family member living with dementia perhaps offer to sit with their loved one for a while so they can pop to the shops or go an lay in the bath for an hour. The carer will be truly grateful!

At Argo we understand what life is like for those living with dementia. It is not just the individual living with the disease who is affected. It is their family and friends. Our advice and support is tailored for the whole family to make a difference and ease the stresses and burdens of a dementia diagnosis. If you need help, just ask!

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