Fronto Temporal Dementia

There are three variants of Fronto-temporal disorders, which are determined by the first symptoms that occur. The behavioral variant, the language variant and the movement variant.

What is Fronto-temporal dementia (FTD)

Fronto-temporal dementia (FTD) often occurs at a younger age. Changes in behavior usually occur first. Language and speech can also be affected. This form of dementia is caused by death of brain cells in the frontal lobe (behavioral area), and the temporal lobe (language area).

One of the most striking features of fronto-temporal dementia is that this disease occurs at a relatively young age. The majority of people who get the disease are between 40 and 60 years old. At a young age, it is -at the Alzheimer disadvantage- the most common form of dementia.

The first signs of fronto-temporal dementia depend on the location in the brain that is being damaged. Usually changes occur first in behavior, personality and speech. Only at a later stage do people with fronto-temporal dementia get memory problems. Violent changes in behavior, personality, emotions, language skills and motor skills can be signals that point to FTD.

Behavior variant of FTD

People with this form of fronto-temporal dementia show remarkable changes in their behavior, personality, emotions and the assessment of situations. Someone with this variant of FTD can do inappropriate or risky things, such as stealing something in a store. Also compulsive behavior occurs. Certain activities must always take place in a fixed sequence and at a fixed time. If things go differently, the person becomes irritated. People with this form of fronto-temporal dementia can also seem very insensitive. Or they are sitting apathetically on the couch all day and do not get anything done.

Language variant of FTD

People with this form of fronto-temporal dementia have problems in language proficiency, such as difficulty speaking, understanding, reading and writing. This is called primarily progressive aphasia or semantic dementia. It starts with problems with word understanding. Someone with semantic dementia knows less and less what certain words and things mean. After a while, the language concept becomes less and less and someone can also give more and more meaning to objects and situations.

Movement variant of FTD

This form is characterized by changes in a person’s motor skills and difficulties with movement, such as trembling, difficulty walking, often falling and problems with coordination. People suffer from stiffness and a trembling arm. Often these motor complaints occur on one side of the body. Some people experience a so-called ‘alien hand’: here it is as if the arm moves by itself and takes care of things. This variant is also called Corticobasal syndrome.

Course of the disease

FTD has an unpredictable course. Some people go very fast, others stay stable for a long time. The first phases of each of the three forms of FTD are generally gradual, with stable periods of a few months or weeks. After a few years these stable periods will become shorter and shorter. The patient will develop less initiative and exhibit more inappropriate behavior at home or in public. The compulsive features are also becoming more pronounced. The talking becomes more difficult and you notice that the person uses more standard words or phrases.

Life expectancy FTD

Caring for the patient with FTD will eventually become very difficult. Admission to a nursing home is often the only solution. Sometimes medicines will be given to adjust the problem behavior somewhat. As more parts of the brain are damaged, the symptoms will increasingly resemble those of Alzheimer’s disease.

In the last stage of the disease, the patient will become bedridden and withdraw more and more into himself. Brain damage resulting in swallowing disorders, often resulting in pneumonia, is a common cause of death.

Life expectancy after a diagnosis Fronto-temporal dementia is usually six to eight years.