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Understanding the Progression of Frontotemporal Dementia

by Karen Mozzer on 8/7/14 9:00 AM

When you and your family are dealing with Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD), you should understand that the length of the disease and the pace of symptom appearance vary from one person to the next. Each type of FTD typically follows a pattern. The symptoms initially seen in the milder initial stage will become more disabling and pronounced over the course of eight to ten years, as the disease runs its course.FTD Progression

Mild Behavioral Variant Frontotemporal Dementia

In the first few years, the milder symptoms of FTD are seen. The affected person may exhibit overeating, apathy or loss of empathy or sympathy for other people. The person might have trouble planning or organizing things, and some memory problems will be evident. Still, the person can handle household tasks and take care of himself, for the most part.

Judgment impairment may lead to financial problems and unwise financial decisions, and these can be catastrophic. The affected person may also exhibit less interest in hobbies, family and friends, and may withdraw from social situations. He may behave in an inappropriate way with people he does not know, act more impulsively and he could even break the law.

In the mild stage, these behaviors may be managed in many cases with environmental and lifestyle changes.

Moderate Behavioral Variant FTD

As the first few years of the disease progress, the symptoms will be basically the same, but they will become more disabling and pronounced. In addition, the affected person may display compulsive behaviors like collecting objects or compulsive cleaning. Binge eating can create weight problems, and he may develop other health problems.

Dementia’s cognitive problems are more pronounced in moderate FTD. Attention and planning will show deficits, and the person will experience forgetfulness and mental rigidity.

Severe Behavioral Variant FTD

FTD has progressed to its most serious stage by this time. The patient will experience behavioral symptoms that are more profound. They include increased apathy and loss of empathy. He may experience memory loss and language difficulties. The time from the onset of FTD to the end varies widely, but averages about eight years.


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