Frontotemporal dementia (FTD)

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is an umbrella term for a cluster of conditions that makes up about 10 percent of dementia cases. It’s the most common form when dementia occurs before age 65.

What sets FTD apart is a sudden and dramatic change. Often in a person’s behavior. But speech and/or movement abilities can be affected. Memory loss comes later. As a caregiver, you want to focus on managing symptoms. And on finding FTD specialists to make life easier for everyone.

Take note of these key strategies

  • Behavioral symptoms. Apathy, resistance, or even combative responses. People with FTD often undergo a dramatic shift in personality. For example, social inhibitions may disappear. As a result, they may say or do rude things. Don’t take what they do personally. It’s the disease! Observe which situations or times of day tend to set your loved one off. Then work with an occupational therapist. They can help you create a daily routine that avoids triggers and reroutes the behavior.
  • Speech problems. Your loved one may not be able to find words. Or understand the spoken word. This is frustrating for everyone! Work with a speech therapist. They can show you communication techniques that match your loved one’s abilities.
  • Movement problems. From tremors to muscle weakness, your relative may be at high risk for falls. Work with a physical therapist who specializes in FTD. They can help your loved one stay safely mobile for as long as possible.

Get support for yourself. Especially if your loved one is your spouse and you are under 65. There are many midlife passages you may have to navigate by yourself—for both of you. Talk with a therapist who understands FTD. And find a support group by contacting the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration: or 866-507-7222.

This article is brought to you by A Family Member HomeCare.

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