Mental Processes

What is Lewy Body Dementia?

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD), sometimes called frontotemporal disorders, is a rare form of dementia that tends to occur at a younger age than other dementias. About 60% of people with FTD are 45 to 64 years old.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it is caused by a group of disorders that gradually damage the brain’s frontal and temporal lobes. This damage causes changes in thinking and behaviors. Symptoms can include unusual behaviors, emotional problems, trouble communicating, challenges with work, and difficulty with walking.

There is no way to slow down or prevent FTD, but there are ways to help manage the symptoms, like maintaining a schedule, decreasing distractions, and changing the environment to help with behavioral issues. Other movement-related disorders include frontotemporal dementia with parkinsonism and frontotemporal dementia with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (FTD-ALS). Symptoms can vary among these movement disorders.

The underlying causes of frontotemporal dementia are not yet fully understood. People with FTD have abnormal amounts or forms of proteins called tau and TDP-43 inside nerve cells, or neurons, in their brain. The neurons die because the buildup of these proteins causes damage. In some. Learn more about how to help manage FTD symptoms.

There are several disorders that can result in frontotemporal dementia, all of which can affect middle-aged and older adults. Behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) is the most common frontotemporal disorder. It causes changes in personality, behavior, emotions, and judgment.

Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) involves changes in the ability to communicate — to speak, read, write, and understand what others are saying. Movement disorders happen when the parts of the brain that control movement are affected. There are two types of rare movement disorders associated with FTD: corticobasal syndrome and progressive supranuclear palsy. Other movement-related disorders include frontotemporal dementia with parkinsonism and frontotemporal dementia with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (FTD-ALS). Symptoms can vary among these movement disorders.

The signs and symptoms of frontotemporal dementia vary from person to person and the order in which they appear can also vary. Changes in the frontal lobe of the brain are generally associated with behavioral symptoms and may also lead to movement symptoms.

Changes in the temporal lobe generally lead to disorders of language and emotion. Symptoms of frontotemporal dementia and associated disorders may include: Decreased energy and motivation Lack of interest in others Inappropriate and impulsive behaviors Not acting considerate of others Repeating an activity or word over and over again.

 Changes in food preferences and compulsive eating Increased interest in sex.

Neglect of personal hygiene Emotional flatness or excessive emotions

Difficulty making or understanding speech Inability to make common motions, such as using a fork Problems with balance and walking Increased clumsiness

Slow movement, falling, body stiffness

Restricted eye movements Shaky hands Muscle weakness and loss, fine jerks, wiggling in muscles.

There is no cure for frontotemporal dementia and no way to slow down or prevent it. However, the NIH says there are ways to help manage symptoms:

Maintain a schedule, decrease distractions, and change the environment to help with behavioral issues. For example, if compulsive eating is an issue, consider limiting food choices, locking cabinets and the refrigerator, and distracting the person with other activities.

Try to recognize it’s the illness “talking” and accept rather than challenge people with behavioral symptoms. Arguing or reasoning will not help because they cannot control their behaviors or even see that they are unusual or upsetting to others.

Limit choices and offer specific choices, such as “Do you want to go to the park or for a walk?” rather than, “What do you want to do today?”

If you become frustrated, take a timeout — take deep breaths, count to 10, or leave the room for a few minutes.

To help with language issues, speak slowly and clearly, use simple sentences, wait for responses, and ask for clarification if you don’t understand something. An album of labeled photos of people and objects, gestures, and drawing may help communicate without talking. A speech-language pathologist can determine the best tools and strategies for a particular person.

Medications, such as antidepressants and antipsychotics, may help treat certain behavioral symptoms. There are also medications that may help with movement problems, and physical and occupational therapy may provide some relief.

Support groups can also be a valuable resource for people with frontotemporal dementias and their caregivers, allowing them to share experiences and tips with others who may be in the same situation. Nonprofit organizations and community organizations may provide online or in-person support groups.

If you have a family history or are concerned about symptoms of frontotemporal dementia, talk with your doctor. If you or someone you know has recently been diagnosed, explore the resources on this website and linked below to find out more about the disease, care, support, and research.

For more information, click here to visit the website of the National Institute on Aging.

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