According to the Alzheimer’s Association, it is estimated over six million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia in the United States. Early-onset dementia is defined as having symptoms under the age of sixty-five, and frontotemporal dementia, also known as FTD, is most common in people under the age of sixty.
FTD is different from Alzheimer’s disease in that there are different symptoms, it presents at a younger age, and is not as common. Some of the signs of FTD include:
- Increasingly inappropriate actions and lack of judgement including criminal behavior.
- Change in mood including anxiety or depression.
- Loss of empathy & other interpersonal skills.
- Repetitive compulsive behavior.
- Decline in personal hygiene.
- Change in eating habits, more apt to overeat.
- Impaired speech and motor ability.
The nerve damage caused by FTD leads to loss of brain function that can affect personality, behaviors, and language. Since FTD can have an onset of symptoms in one’s forties, dementia is often missed as a possible diagnosis for a younger person presenting with changes in mood or behavior. FTD also progresses much quicker than Alzheimer’s and other dementia. Early symptoms may overlap with conditions such as depression, Parkinson’s disease or bipolar disorder and can take up to 3.6 years to get an accurate diagnosis according to the Association of Frontotemporal Degeneration.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are no known risk factors for FTD other than having a family history of dementia. The only way to determine if a person has FTD is through appropriate neurological exam and testing by a physician experienced with this disorder. A referral from a primary care physician is one option to find resources for a diagnosis. Although there is no cure for FTD or treatments to slow or stop the disease progression, there is help to manage FTD symptoms. For more information and community resources, feel free to reach out to The Association of Frontotemporal Degeneration at 866.507.7222 or online at www.theaftd.org.
There are also several programs available to support family members caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s/dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association’s 24-Hour Helpline can be reached at 800-272-3900 or visit www.alz.org.
At National Health Care Associates, we have designated skilled nursing centers with secured memory care communities offering specialized programming to meet the needs of residents living with Alzheimer’s/dementia. For more information, please visit www.nhca.com. National makes it easy to get assistance by offering a 24/7 CARE line, allowing for direct admission from home or even the emergency department. For more information, you can call 877-CARE-247 or visit us online at https://nhca.com/about-passport to learn more about our approach.
Column was originally written by Laura Falt, Director of Business Development for the Connecticut Region at National. Laura welcomes the opportunity to be a resource on services for older adults and is often featured in online publications.