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Signs & Symptoms of Frontotemporal Dementia

by Stacey Rossano on 4/30/15 9:24 AM

Due to similarities in behaviors and symptoms, frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is often confused with Alzheimer's, schizophrenia and depression.  In fact, misdiagnosis was  a very prevalent medical health issue in the past. Now, however, FTD is fast being recognized as the most common form of dementia among people 60 and younger and among Alzheimer's patients between the ages of 45 and older.


The Early Stages Of Frontotemporal Dementia 

During the formative stages of frontotemporal dementia people often experience dramatic mood and personality changes that include withdrawal, isolation, speech problems and obsessive behaviors.  It is also common for people to experience a decline in inhibition and to become antisocial. Like all other forms of dementia, frontotemporal dementia is progressive and thus, it will eventually effect memory, overall mental acuity and many other functions. Although memory loss is one of the first and most common signs of Alzheimer's, early frontotemporal dementia is more often characterized by antisocial and unusual behaviors along with language and speech difficulties.

The Progression Of FTD

As FTD continues to progress people often develop muscle weakness and movement disorders including rigidity, slowed movement, twitching and unsteadiness or loss of balance. Swallowing can become challenging as well. Over time, many FTD sufferers become unable to care for themselves.

Behavioral Symptoms Common Among Those With FTD

Dementia can progress at different rates for different people and thus, some individuals may retain many of their normal functions and behaviors for quite some time. Those who suffer from FTD may be unwilling to talk, lack concern for their personal appearances and self-care, exhibit unusual sexual, verbal or physical behaviors, show a marked lack of inhibition and repeat certain actions compulsively. Weight gain may occur as well, given that binge eating is a common development among those with FTD. Moreover, many patients who have this form of dementia are not aware of the dramatic behavioral changes that are occurring.

How Frontotemporal Dementia Affects Patient Care

Giving the numerous similarities between FTD and other common, geriatric ailments, ensuring accurate diagnosis is the first and most important step in issuing appropriate care.  It is also important to note that this dementia may result in a considerable decline in pain awareness.  Due to this fact, some patients can become more vulnerable to physical trauma and may not exhibit drug interactions and reactions for quite some time after medications have been started or changed.

Dementia Training For Long-term care staff

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