About Frontotemporal Dementia

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a devastating and progressive neurodegenerative disease that causes profound behavioral and personality changes. Frontotemporal dementia gradually destroys a person’s ability to interpret social cues correctly, behave appropriately, empathize with others, communicate and make decisions. It affects approximately 7-10 people per 100,000 and is more common in men than women. The average age of onset is 55-65 years old, although onset can be as early as the 30s and as late as the 80s.

Prior to 10-15 years ago, frontotemporal dementia was generally known as Pick’s Disease, named after Professor Arnold Pick who first described the disease in Prague in 1892. As physicians learned more about the disease, they realized there are several forms of frontotemporal dementia, each with slightly different behavioral, language and/or motor characteristics and they coined the term frontotemporal dementia to encompass these forms. Today this varied group of syndromes is also commonly called frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) to reflect the universally shared atrophy of the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain.

Misdiagnoses are common, especially in the early stages of the disease. Seeing a specialist with experience in neurodegenerative disorders is vital to helping patients and caregivers. Although no medications can reverse the degeneration caused by frontotemporal dementia, treatments and lifestyle changes can relieve some symptoms.

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