Frontotemporal Dementia Pittsburgh

Frontal Temporal Dementia Pittsburgh

Also known as FTD, frontotemporal degeneration or Pick’s disease, is the most common dementia diagnosed before age 60. FTD is actually a group of diseases affecting the same brain regions. These include behavioral variant FTD, primary progressive aphasia (PPA), corticobasal degeneration, progressive supranuclear palsy, and FTD/ALS.

Symptoms: FTD brings progressive changes to personality, language, decision making, behavior, disinhibitions, impulsivity, impaired financial decision making, and language problems.

Clinically, FTD is classified into two main types of syndromes:

  • Behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) involves changes in behavior, judgment, and personality. People with this disorder may have problems with cognition. Their memory may stay relatively intact. They may do impulsive things that are out of character such as gambling or having extramarital affairs. They may engage in repetitive, unusual behaviors. People with bvFTD also may say or do inappropriate things or become uncaring. Over time, language and/or movement problems may occur.
  • Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) involves changes in the ability to speak, understand, and express thoughts and/or words and to write and read. Many people with PPA develop symptoms of dementia. Problems with memory, reasoning, and judgment are not apparent at first but can develop and progress over time. Sometimes a person with PPA cannot recognize the faces of familiar people and common objects (called semantic PPA). Other individuals have increasing trouble producing speech and may eventually be unable to speak at all (called agrammatic PPA).

Symptoms: In these disorders, changes to nerve cells in the brain’s frontal lobes affect the ability to reason and make decisions, prioritize and multitask, act appropriately, and control movement. Changes to the temporal lobes affect memory and how people understand words, recognize objects, and recognize and respond to emotions. Some people decline rapidly over 2 to 3 years, while others show only minimal changes for many years. The signs and symptoms may vary greatly among individuals as different parts of the brain are affected. No treatment that can cure or reverse frontal temporal dementia disorders is currently available.

Families frequently do not recognize FTD in their loved ones. They often wonder why their personalities change. Life Care Managers can help families understand the nature of this disease and provide the needed family support. This is not the person but the disease-causing this change.

Think your family member may have Frontal Temporal Dementia in the Pittsburgh area? Visit our life care management page to learn how we can help.

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