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Frontotemporal Degeneration (FTD) accounts for about 10-20 percent of dementia cases. It is recognized as one of the most common presenile dementias (meaning it occurs in a younger population).
- Behavioral variant FTD (bvFTD) impacts personality and behavior. Subtle changes in personal relationships, interaction with others and mood may be noticeable in the beginning, and are sometimes mistaken for depression. As bvFTD progresses, a person may withdraw socially, lose restraint in personal relations and social activities, and have poor judgment or decision making abilities.
- Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) affects language skills in the beginning and behavior as the disorder advances. A person can speak, but uses broad general terms such as “animal” when referring to a “dog.” Comprehension of language may also become a problem as the disease advances. They may struggle to find words, or speech may seem delayed. The ability to read and write may also decline.
- Frontotemporal movement disorders affects involuntary, automatic muscle functions, and impairs language and behavior. A person may become shaky, notice muscle rigidity and spasms and loss of coordination. A person may have trouble with walking and balance, may fall frequently and notice muscle stiffness or affected eye movement.
What Is Frontotemporal Dementia?
FTD causes cell damage in the frontal lobe (behind the eyes) and temporal lobe (behind the ears), shrinking tissue and reducing brain functions such as judgment, emotions, speaking, understanding and movement. FTD is relatively more common in the younger population, with people often developing symptoms in their 50s or early 60s. FTD is comprised of multiple disorders with different core symptoms.
Diagnosing FTD is based on a physician’s judgment after a complete medical assessment including a thorough medical history, mental status testing and physical and neurological exams. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can detect shrinkage in the brain’s frontal and temporal lobes, which is a hallmark of FTD.
What Should I Expect As A Caregiver?
For caregivers, understanding common behavior changes of persons living with FTD is important. A person with FTD may struggle to speak or carry on a normal conversation. As the disease progresses, a person with FTD may become frustrated, anxious or embarrassed by their cognitive decline. A caregiver may need to provide emotional and physical support, as well as encouragement. Individuals with FTD may become forgetful, restless or experience rapid mood swings as the disease advances. Knowing how to balance a person’s safety and independence becomes more difficult as the disease progresses.
- Family history—The majority of cases are sporadic, meaning it develops in that person by chance rather than being inherited. However, scientists have found several genes linked to FTD
- Moderate to severe head trauma
How Can We Help?
Meeting the demands of a loved one with Frontotemporal Dementia can be difficult and seem impossible. Memory care is all we do. We offer the following services dedicated to those living with memory impairments.
- Support, education and information for caregivers and family members.
- An environment that helps to keep residents safe and as independent as possible.
- Staff specially trained on caring for residents living with memory loss.
- Structured, engaging programs, 10 hours a day.
- Programs personalized for all levels of dementia and focused on what the resident can do, capitalizing on lifelong experiences and familiar routines.
Our Resident's Story
Katey moved into Arden Courts when she turned 50 with a primary diagnosis of behavioral variant FTD (bvFTD). Katey’s family completed a lifestyle biography prior to her move-in date. Arden Courts staff learned that Katey had been an English professor and was an avid reader. She was married to her college sweetheart and was a devoted mother and grandmother. She loved music and baking. She volunteered at the local animal shelter and attended Mass every Sunday. Learn more below about how our programming helped Katey.
Staff partnered with Katey’s family to give her access to her favorite tunes from the 70s and 80s along with hymns that have a calming effect on her. Katey also receives in-room pet therapy. She enjoys computer programs, cooking shows and walks in the courtyard with staff and family.
Katey benefits from small group programs on topics that interest her, such as book club, poetry reading, animals and baking. She enjoys receiving a personalized invitation to these activities and acting as a co-teacher some days.
Each day, staff provide Katey with an individualized selection of programs—including Mass and acoustical music—that may interest her. She can get easily overwhelmed in other group programs. Even the selected programs sometime fail to hold her interest, so staff members make sure she has a seat in the back of the room so she can easily exit.
The soothing environment of Namaste Care decreases Katey’s restlessness and her compulsive behaviors. During Namaste, Katey is calmed with acoustical music, aromatherapy, and a scrapbook containing short poems and labeled pictures of her family members and animals.