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main causes of frontotemporal dementia

What are the Main Causes of Frontotemporal Dementia?

Frontotemporal dementia occurs as a result of damage to the frontal or temporal lobes of the brain. Depending on where in the brain the damage is located, the symptoms can vary.

Frontotemporal dementia and its related disorders are progressive, meaning they worsen over time. 

If you have a loved one with frontotemporal dementia, it’s helpful to have a care plan in place in anticipation of the changing symptoms, which may include assisted living or memory care.

In this article, we will explore the causes and symptoms of frontotemporal dementia, and the care options available to your loved one.

What is frontotemporal dementia?

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD), also known as frontotemporal disorders or frontotemporal degeneration, is a relatively rare type of dementia that tends to affect younger individuals than other types such as Alzheimer’s disease.

According to the National Institute on Aging, about 60% of those with frontotemporal dementia are 45 to 64 years old. 

The symptoms of frontotemporal dementia can vary significantly depending on the area of the brain affected.

Frontal lobe

The frontal lobe of the brain is responsible for the following functions:

  • Personality
  • Behavior
  • Emotions
  • Planning and problem-solving
  • Judgment
  • Speaking and writing
  • Intelligence
  • Self-awareness

Temporal lobe

Meanwhile, the temporal lobe is responsible for these functions:

  • Language comprehension
  • Hearing
  • Memory
  • Organization
  • Sequencing

Those with frontotemporal dementia have nerve damage in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, which affects their ability to perform the functions associated with these areas.

In the early stages of FTD, people may only have a few symptoms. As it progresses, the symptoms may worsen and new symptoms will appear.

Types of frontotemporal dementia

Early symptoms of frontotemporal dementia can be difficult for family members of the affected person. The personality changes and behaviors associated with it can be alarming or even harmful.

It’s important for family members and friends to understand that the changes are due to the disorder, not the person and that they cannot control their symptoms.

Experts have established types of frontotemporal dementia because the symptoms differ based on where the damage in the brain is occurring.

Types of frontotemporal dementia include:

  • Behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD): Behavioral variant is the most common form, and involves changes in behavior, personality, judgment, and planning
  • Primary progressive aphasia (PPA): Includes communication issues such as difficulty speaking, writing, and understanding what others are saying
  • Movement disorders: Includes rare movement disorders known as corticobasal syndrome and progressive supranuclear palsy, as well as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease

What are the leading causes of frontotemporal dementia?

The true cause of frontotemporal dementia is unknown. Doctors know that the symptoms of FTD are a result of damage to the neurons in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, as well as abnormal amounts or formations of certain proteins.

The proteins found in the brains of those with frontotemporal dementia are supposed to be there, but something causes them to malfunction and damage neurons in the affected regions of the brain.

Experts believe that roughly 10% to 30% of the behavioral variant is tied to certain genes.

Beyond a family history of the disorder, there are currently no other known risk factors for frontotemporal dementia, even though most people who have it don’t have a family history of it.

Can frontotemporal dementia be prevented?

Frontotemporal dementia currently cannot be prevented, but there are numerous treatment options available to help manage the symptoms.

As with most forms of dementia, an early diagnosis is helpful for the long-term management of the disease. If you begin to notice changes in your loved one’s behavior, mood, personality, communication skills, or movement, take them to see a doctor.

The doctor will perform a series of tests to rule out other illnesses, including:

  • Neurological and neuropsychological exams
  • Lab work
  • MRI or CT scans of the brain
  • Evaluation of medical history and current medications

They may prescribe medications such as antidepressants or antipsychotics to ease symptoms. 

Speech therapy and physical and occupational therapy also may help those with FTD modify their activities of daily living and assist with communication.

The Kensington White Plains is fully equipped to handle all the care needs of those with frontotemporal dementia. We offer rehabilitation services and exceptional memory care, allowing residents to truly “age in place.”

The Kensington White Plains is equipped to care for those with frontotemporal dementia

The Kensington White Plains Promise is to love and care for your family as we do our own.

We are passionate about caring for our residents and helping them achieve the highest quality of life possible, no matter how their care needs change or evolve over time.

Our community is unique because we are able to accommodate all levels of memory loss, including frontotemporal dementia, Lewy body dementia, Wernicke-Korsakoff dementia, Parkinson’s related dementia, and more.

Caring for a loved one with frontotemporal dementia can be emotionally, mentally, and physically challenging. There may come a time when their needs exceed what you are able to do on your own.

That’s where we come in—The Kensington White Plains is honored to serve our community with our enhanced assisted living and memory care.

We offer the following services:

  • Rehabilitation, including speech, occupational, and physical therapies
  • Active social lives through our life enrichment programming
  • Nutritious, gourmet dining, including special diets and texture modifications
  • Onsite physicians
  • Two specialized memory care “neighborhoods,” Connections and Haven
  • Nurses onsite 24 hours a day, seven days a week
  • 24/7 concierge services that support with coordinating residents’ doctors appointments, family visits, and any help that residents and families need

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to dementia care. We cater to each individual, supporting our residents’ strengths and providing the best in comfort and care.

We also are passionate about supporting our family caregivers with the following resources:

  • Events page with a full calendar of our upcoming caregiver events and partnerships with leading experts
  • Blog with educational content, news, and event recaps
  • Kensington Konnect hub of entertaining and fun resources for caregivers, seniors, and families

To learn more about our community and speak with our team, contact us today.

Feel free to also check out our suites and floor plans or take a virtual tour.

We look forward to connecting with you and sharing Our Promise in action!

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