Saturday, August 13, 2022
HomeExclusiveHow Is Frontotemporal Dementia Different From Alzheimer's

How Is Frontotemporal Dementia Different From Alzheimer’s

Differences Between Ftd And Other Dementias

Frontotemporal Dementia is Different from Other Dementias

FTD differs markedly in several ways when compared to other dementias, especially Alzheimerâs disease:

  • FTD is characterized by cerebral atrophy in the frontal and anterior temporal lobes of the brain, while Alzheimerâs affects the hippocampal, posterior temporal, and parietal regions.
  • The neurofibrillary tangles, senile plaques, and Lewy bodies present in the brains of Alzheimerâs and other dementia patients are absent.
  • Alzheimerâs patients experience severe memory loss. While FTD patients exhibit memory disturbances, they remain oriented to time and place and recall information about the present and past.
  • FTD patients, even in late stages of the disease, retain visuo-spatial orientation, and they negotiate and locate their surroundings accurately.
  • Intellectual failure in FTD is distinctly different from that of Alzheimerâs patients. Results of intelligence tests are normal in those with FTD until the point in the disease when disinterest results in lower scores.
  • Life expectancy is slightly longer for FTD.

Are There Options For Treatment

Today, there is no cure for FTD. Unfortunately, no current treatments slow or stop the progression of the disease. However, if you or a family member or loved one are affected, there are important steps that you can take to preserve and maximize quality of life. A growing number of interventions not limited to medication can help with managing FTD symptoms.

It is important for you and your care partner to identify a team of experts who can help with coordinating care and with the legal, financial, and emotional challenges brought on by this disease.

How Is Frontotemporal Dementia Treated

Currently, no treatments are available to cure or slow the progression of FTD, but healthcare providers may prescribe medicine to treat symptoms. Antidepressants may help treat anxiety and control obsessive-compulsive behaviors and other symptoms. Prescription sleeping aids can help ease insomnia and other sleep disturbances. Antipsychotic medicine may reduce irrational and compulsive behaviors.

Behavior modification may help control unacceptable or risky behaviors.

Speech and language pathologists and physical and occupational therapists can help adjustment to some of the changes caused by FTD.

Recommended Reading: Senile Dementia Of The Alzheimer Type

Where To From Here

Limited awareness of frontotemporal dementia and the diversity of its symptoms often lead to misdiagnosis or delays in diagnosis. Behavioural changes tend to be mistaken for symptoms of depression or psychiatric disorders.

Educating the general public and health professionals about the different types of dementia and the variety of symptoms is an important step in reducing the time it takes to reach a diagnosis.

In the absence of a cure, a major challenge is to develop appropriate and effective management strategies for those living with dementia. We hope this new research can help us find interventions for these often misunderstood symptoms.

If you know someone with frontotemporal dementia or would like to get involved in our research, you can find more information here or contact

A Diagnosis And An Important Question

Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) vs Alzheimer

When Walter was examined further in our clinic, we decided that his memory troubles were indeed the result of Alzheimers disease. He had major neurocognitive disorder and we were unable to identify any other medical or psychiatric disorder that could be responsible for his condition. An amyloid PET scan of Walters brain would likely have showed accumulation of beta amyloid, the disease-associated protein found in the brains of people with Alzheimers. Bill asked, What about me? Will I get Alzheimers disease?

What we know now from biomarker research allows us to answer Bills question in a way that would not have been possible for past generations. We can tell Bill that he definitely does not have dementia, and that if he has Alzheimers disease it is in the pre-symptomatic stage. Occurrence of the disease in his father puts Bill at a small increased risk, so well watch him in the future. For the present, well encourage him to adopt a brain-healthy lifestyle that includes management of chronic medical diseases, stress reduction, healthy eating habits, adequate sleep, plenty of physical activity, engagement with others, and cognitive stimulation. Of course, this brain healthy lifestyle is a good prescription for all of us!


Recommended Reading: Does Meredith Grey Have Alzheimer’s

When Should I Call My Healthcare Provider

If you are diagnosed with FTD, you and your caregivers should talk with your healthcare providers about when to call them. Your healthcare provider will likely advise calling if your symptoms become worse, or if you have obvious or sudden changes in behavior, personality, or speech. This includes mood changes, such as increasing depression or feeling suicidal.It can be very stressful for a caregiver to take care of a loved one with FTD. It’s normal to have feelings of denial, anger, and irritability. Caregivers may also have anxiety, depression, exhaustion, and health problems of their own. Caregivers should contact their healthcare provider if they have any of these signs of stress.

How Can Genes Cause Disease

Genes often play a role in the development of diseases. This can happen in two main ways.

Single-gene diseases

Sometimes, a gene changes and this causes a disease. This is known as a single-gene disease because it is caused by a change in just one gene. Single-gene diseases are often serious, but they are rare.

It is possible to directly inherit a single-gene disease. This means that if a child inherits the same changed gene that a parent has, they are very likely in some cases almost certain to develop the same disease.

Complex or multiple-gene diseases

Complex diseases are less straightforward. They develop through the interaction between several different factors. These are known as risk factors for that disease. They include:

  • the persons environment or lifestyle for example, their diet and whether they smoke or not
  • multiple gene variants known as risk variants because they increase the persons risk of developing the disease.

It isnt possible to inherit a complex disease in the same way as a single-gene disease. This is because complex diseases are caused by multiple factors acting together.

However, a person with a family history of a complex disease will often have an increased chance of developing it. This is because they are likely to share risk factors with other birth relatives. Despite this increased chance, the person still might never develop the disease.

You May Like: Parkinsons And Alzheimers Together

Signs Of Frontotemporal Dementia

  • /
  • Signs Of Frontotemporal Dementia

  • A group of disorders caused by cell degeneration, frontotemporal dementia affects the brain, specifically its areas associated with personality, behavior and language. Once considered a rare disease, FTD may account for 20-50% of dementia cases in people younger than age 65, according to the Alzheimers Association.

    FTD causes cell damage that shrinks the brains frontal and temporal lobes. The disease generally starts with personality and behavior changes and may eventually lead to severe memory loss.

    Often miscategorized as psychiatric illness, frontotemporal dementia typically strikes between the ages of 45 and 65. However, the Association for Frontotemporal Dementia Degeneration indicates that cases have occurred as early as age 21 and as late as age 80.

    Types And Diagnostic Challenges

    Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) from a Caregiver – Part 2: Self-Awareness and The Diagnostic Process.

    There is a lack of absolute agreement among experts regarding which specific diseases fall under the frontotemporal dementia umbrella. However, the most prevalent type is behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia , formerly known as Picks disease, which accounts for approximately 60% of cases. Other common types are the primary progressive aphasias , including the nonfluent/agrammatic variant also known as progressive nonfluent aphasia and the semantic variant. Also known as semantic dementia, semantic variant PPA includes a left temporal lobe variant, which has the appearance of progressive inability to name things, and a right temporal lobe variant, with progressive inability to distinguish familiar faces and to some degree places, explained Richard J. Caselli, MD, a professor of neurology at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona.

    The nomenclature and various acronyms are confusing, and neurologists often find daunting the overlapping features of the various disorders, Melanie B. Shulman, MD, a clinical associate professor of neurology and psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York, told Neurology Advisor. . The confusion can lead to misdiagnosis and under-diagnosis of FTLD. For example, bvFTD is often misdiagnosed as a psychiatric problem, AD, or Parkinsons disease. Further complicating the clinical picture, approximately 15% of patients with FTLD will develop motor neuron disease , of which the most common type is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis .

    Read Also: Did Margaret Thatcher Have Dementia

    Does Ftd Affect Younger People

    Frontotemporal dementia is mostly diagnosed between the ages of 45 and 65 . This is much younger than more common types of dementia such as Alzheimers disease, which mostly affects people over 65.

    Being diagnosed at a younger age can bring someone a very different set of challenges. A person under 65 may still be working, have a mortgage and other bills to pay, or have children who still rely on them. This means they may need different services and support.

    The Difference Between Frontal Lobe Dementia And Alzheimers Disease Conclusion

    As this article clearly states, there is a difference between frontal lobe dementia and Alzheimers disease. Yet, there are just as many likenesses between them. Family members need to have their elderly loved ones checked often for any brain disorders. Remember, it will take doctors time to come up with a proper diagnosis of Alzheimers or other dementia illnesses. Applewood Our House in Lakewood, Golden and Arvada work with our residents and their doctors to ensure that they are getting regular checkups and the right diagnosis. By checking these disorders early on, you are likely to ensure that your loved one lives longer and has a better outlook on life.

    You May Like: Does Meredith Grey Have Alzheimer’s

    What Is The Prognosis For Someone With Frontotemporal Dementia

    Frontotemporal dementia worsens over time. Eventually people with FTD will need help with their activities of everyday living. Some people may need 24-hour care at home or at living facilities or nursing homes. The speed of decline varies from person to person, but the disease course typically ranges from two to 10 years.

    Can Genes Cause Dementia

    Frontotemporal Dementia

    Around 1 in 4 people aged 55 years and over has a close birth relative with dementia. Find out what part genes play in dementia and how genetics can affect the risk of developing the condition.

  • You are here: Can genes cause dementia?
  • It is well known that children can take after their parents for example, in the way they look. This is partly because many of the key characteristics of a person are passed down from parents to children in their genes.

    Recommended Reading: Does Andrea Mitchell Have Dementia

    Alzheimers And Dementia Facts And Statistics

    More than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimers More adults die with Alzheimers disease than from breast cancer and prostate cancer combined In 2020, more than 11 million Americans provided unpaid care for people with Alzheimers or other dementias. These 11 million caregivers provided an estimated 15.3 billion hours of care valued at $257 billion.

    These are just a few of the staggering statistics related to the prevalence and significance of Alzheimers disease and dementia. Due to advancements in healthcare and personal care, adults are continuing to live longer, making dementia and Alzheimers increasingly common. It is estimated that by 2050, twice as many Americans will be living with Alzheimers .

    There is currently no cure for any type of dementia, including Alzheimers. There are a few medications that are approved to treat the symptoms and a recently approved drug to slow the progression, but there are no medications or treatments to reverse the disease progression.

    What Are The Symptoms Of Primary Progressive Aphasia

    The other main type of FTD is primary progressive aphasia where the early symptoms are mostly problems with language. Other aspects of thinking, perception and behaviour are not affected as much during the early stages.

    However, as the disease progresses, there may start to be changesin these areas.

    You May Like: Does Meredith Grey Have Alzheimer’s

    What Are The Complications Of Frontotemporal Dementia

    FTD is not life-threatening people may live with it for years. But it can lead to an increased risk for other illnesses that can be more serious. Pneumonia is the most common cause of death, with FTD. People are also at increased risk for infections and fall-related injuries.

    As FTD progressively worsens, people may engage in dangerous behaviors or be unable to care for themselves. They may need 24-hour nursing care or to stay in an assisted living facility or nursing home.

    Screening And Neuroimaging To Aid Diagnosis

    Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) from a Caregiver – Part 4: Effects on Caregives

    Recent findings published in Alzheimers Disease and Associated Disorders suggest that the Montreal Cognitive Assessment may be a valuable tool in distinguishing FTD from AD.2 The results show a significant difference in overall scores between the 2 patient groups , and the following specific MoCA items differed between AD and FTD: serial 7 subtractions , delayed recall , and orientation .

    For bvFTD in particular, the criteria developed by the International Behavioural Variant FTD Criteria Consortium , revised in 2011, have shown high diagnostic accuracy for probable bvFTD .3,4

    In establishing a diagnosis in suspected cases of FTLD, neuroimaging is a key component. Dr Shulman described the following defining imaging patterns of FTLD:

    • The majority of patients have focal frontal or anterior temporal atrophy that is readily identifiable by visual inspection. The atrophy is often asymmetric, even in patients with bvFTD.
    • Lateralized findings are almost always present in patients with PPA, encompassing a wide network of brain regions. The whole left peri-Sylvian region, anterior temporal lobes , and basal ganglia bilaterally are all found to be atrophied in PPA patients.
    • In PNFA, the inferior frontal lobe and insula are atrophied, while in semantic dementia, the anterior temporal lobe is focally atrophied.
    • FDG-PET imaging demonstrates variable patterns of frontal and temporal hypometabolism in contradistinction to the biparietal hypometabolism most commonly seen in AD.

    Don’t Miss: What Color Ribbon Is Alzheimer’s

    Diagnosing Frontal Lobe Dementia

    No one test is able to diagnose frontal lobe dementia. Instead physicians are able to use the balance of evidence to diagnose frontal lobe dementia based on their best judgment. Because there is no foolproof test and diagnosis depends on the physicians knowledge, judgment, and observation of the patient, frontal lobe dementia is notoriously difficult to diagnose in its early stages. Although as the disease progresses, it becomes easier to definitely distinguish it between other disorders.

    What Are The Symptoms Of Frontotemporal Dementia

    Frontotemporal dementia affects everyone differently. Its symptoms vary a lot and depend on which areas of the frontal and temporal lobes are damaged and so the type of FTD the person has.

    As with most forms of dementia, FTD is progressive. This means its symptoms may be mild at first, but they will get worse over time.

    Find out more about FTD symptoms below.

    Read Also: Does Meredith Grey Have Alzheimer’s

    Unpicking The Clumps Of Ftd

    At Alzheimers Research UK we believe that research is the only way to bring about our vision: a world where people are free from the fear, harm and heartbreak of dementia. Research into FTD is a key part of that vision.

    The complexity of FTD, from the symptoms to the underlying problems in the brain, presents a huge challenge for researchers. They need to be able to accurately diagnose people and understand how to tackle the different forms of FTD.

    Alzheimers Research UK has funded over 40 projects investigating FTD, including work by Prof Delphine Boche to understand how protein clumps in the brain trigger the immune system and what that means for FTD progression. Or researchers from Kings College London, who are interested in how two of the important proteins, tau and TDP-43, interact.

    Each clue that scientists find to further our understanding of what goes wrong in FTD brings us closer to finding a life-changing treatment.

    Diagnosis Makes Differentiation Difficult


    There is no one test to determine if someone has Alzheimers or dementia. Currently, the only way to diagnose dementia with certainty is through an autopsy. However, doctors can use a series of questions and tests to help determine if a person may have dementia. This is typically done through a series of tests, designed to rule out any other reasonable explanation for the changes the person is experiencing. These tests can usually help a doctor provide a reasonable diagnosis and treatment plan.

    However, due to the difficulties of diagnosing dementia, data on the various types of dementia may be inaccurate. A recent study from the Alzheimers disease Centers suggests that mixed dementia, evidence of at least two types of dementia, is more common than originally believed. The study found that more than 50% of people with dementia showed evidence of mixed dementia and that the likelihood of mixed dementia increases with age. This fact makes it increasingly difficult to differentiate the types of dementia, as most adults experience symptoms and pathological evidence of more than one type of dementia.

    Recommended Reading: Neil Diamond Alzheimer’s

    Causes Of Frontotemporal Dementia

    Frontotemporal dementia is caused by clumps of abnormal protein forming inside brain cells. These are thought to damage the cells and stop them working properly.

    The proteins mainly build up in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain at the front and sides. These are important for controlling language, behaviour, and the ability to plan and organise.

    It’s not fully understood why this happens, but there’s often a genetic link. Around 1 in 8 people who get frontotemporal dementia will have relatives who were also affected by the condition.

    If you have a family history of frontotemporal dementia, you may want to consider talking to your doctor about being referred to a geneticist and possibly having a genetic test to see if you’re at risk.

    There’s a lot of research being done to try to improve understanding of the causes of frontotemporal dementia so treatments can be discovered.

    If you’re interested in helping with research, you can speak to a doctor or register your interest on Join Dementia Research.


    Most Popular