Frontotemporal Dementia

By M. Chris Wolf, PH.D. and Memory Loss Staff

Frontotemporal Dementia, also known as "Picks Diseases," affects both men and women; however, the disorder typically affects females more than males. Unlike Alzheimer's and dementia, the onset of this disorder occurs at an early age, typically around the age of forty. This type of dementia affects the part of the brain that is responsible for regulating comportment, insight and reasoning. The term "comportment" is in reference to appropriateness and social behaviors.

Causes of Frontotemporal Dementia

There are a variety of common causes and risk factors that may lead to frontal lobe dementia including:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Being overweight
  • Blockage of the small blood vessels in the brain
  • Family history of heart problems
  • Inherited

Signs and Symptoms

The primary signs of the disease are extreme changes in behavior such as inappropriate actions, lack of judgment, poor hygiene, and lack of awareness, lack of apathy, lack of judgment, euphoria and compulsive behavior. Many people will have periods of irritability, obstinate behavior, inconsiderate actions, muscle weakness, tremors, muscle rigidity and difficulties walking. An important aspect of comportment is insight, which helps the person have the ability to see themselves as others see them. When someone has this type of dementia they will have difficulty recognizing their actions and behaviors as inappropriate. Personality changes are common in that someone who is typically quiet and withdrawn will suddenly become loud and boisterous. The person may have physical and/or outbursts for no apparent reason.

Treatment

Although there is no known cure for this form of dementia, a physician can provide medications to relieve symptoms and for preventions of health risks such as a stroke which can increase the symptoms. It is common for someone with disorder to become extremely anxious and/or stressed so the physician may prescribe anti-anxiety medications or an anti-depressant for patients who experience depression as a result of the disorder. Preventive measures are very important including quitting smoking, reduce alcohol consumption, and monitor weight and cholesterol.

The person may have difficulties with daily activities if the condition is severe which would require continuous supervision for their safety. Some individuals with this diagnosis at risk of harming themselves or may become victimized due to their inability to distinguish right from wrong or to make good judgments. There are steps that can be taken to provide a safe and secure environment for the person diagnosed with FT Dementia. It is important to share information regarding their diagnosis with loved ones to help them understand the behavior. Encourage the person to attend support groups and the caregivers should attend a caregiver support group.

See Medication for Dementia

Also see Dementia Treatment

Visit Cognitive Disorders

Visit Dementia Overview

Also see Dementia and Alzheimer's

References:

Mayo Clinic: Frontotemporal dementia

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/frontotemporal-dementia/DS00874/METHOD=print


Northwestern University: Frontotemporal Dementia

http://www.brain.northwestern.edu/mdad/frontal.html



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