If you suspect a loved one has frontotemporal dementia (FTD) or they have recently received a diagnosis, you may be feeling stressed and overwhelmed with their care options.
Caring for a loved one with dementia is challenging, but with the proper resources and support you can successfully navigate the changes to come.
The Kensington Reston is here for you. Our assisted living and memory care community is passionate about helping caregivers receive the necessary resources.
Read on as we explain the symptoms of frontotemporal dementia, the treatment options, and how to care for someone with frontotemporal dementia.
What is frontotemporal dementia?
While dementia is an umbrella term for symptoms involving memory loss and impaired thinking and reasoning skills, frontotemporal dementia is a type of dementia that is also an umbrella term for disorders that affect the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain.
The symptoms can vary significantly based on which areas of the brain are affected, and in some people, the changes in personality or behavior can be severe.
While the most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, according to Mayo Clinic frontotemporal dementia is the cause of around 10% to 20% of dementia cases.
One of the main differences between frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is the age that symptoms begin to appear.
Frontotemporal dementia often occurs at a younger age, between the ages of 40 and 65. It also can occur earlier or later in life.
What are the symptoms of frontotemporal dementia?
Frontotemporal dementia occurs when there is damage to the nerve cells in the frontal or temporal lobes of the brain.
Depending on where in the brain the damage occurs, there are three subtypes of FTD:
- Behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD), also known as behavior variant FTD: Nerve cell damage located in areas of the brain that control conduct, judgment, empathy, and foresight, according to the Alzheimer’s Association
- Primary progressive aphasia (PPA): Affects speaking, writing, comprehension, and language skills
- Three disorders disturb motor function: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), corticobasal syndrome, and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP)
The first symptoms of FTD often include changes in personality or behavior or difficulties with speaking and language.
Dementia is progressive, so over time symptoms will worsen or new symptoms will occur.
With the behavior variant, common symptoms include:
- Losing inhibitions
- Lacking motivation
- Trouble focusing or concentrating
- Repetitive or obsessive behaviors
- Lacking the ability to understand what others are thinking or feeling
Common symptoms of PPA, or the language variants of frontotemporal dementia, include:
- Forgetting the meaning of words or what familiar objects are used for
- Speaking slowly or putting words in the wrong order
- Speaking in short sentences
- Saying the opposite of what the person really means
The symptoms and speed of progression vary from person to person. If you notice any of the above changes in your loved one, speak with a doctor for the next steps.
FTD can be difficult for everyone involved. It’s important for caregivers to educate themselves on this type of dementia and surround themselves with a team of loving, caring professionals.
The Kensington Reston team is trained to care for those with dementia. We are fully equipped to help those with frontotemporal dementia and their families navigate this challenging disorder.
How is FTD diagnosed?
As with many other forms of dementia, there is no specific test to diagnose frontotemporal dementia.
Instead, a doctor who is familiar with FTD will run a series of tests to rule out other causes for the symptoms, including:
- Lab tests
- Sleep study
- Neuropsychological tests
- Brain scans, such as an MRI
What treatment options are available for those with frontotemporal dementia?
There are no specific treatments or cures for FTD, but medications and therapies can help with the symptoms.
Often, those with frontotemporal dementia benefit from speech therapy to assist with speaking and language symptoms.
Medications used to treat FTD include antidepressants and antipsychotics. These medications have benefits and risks, so be sure to weigh them carefully with your loved one and their doctor.
In addition to medication and therapy, healthy lifestyle changes and home adjustments can help improve your loved one’s overall mood, safety, and wellness.
At The Kensington Reston, we offer numerous services that can help address the needs of those with frontotemporal dementia, including rehabilitation services, nurses available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and nutritious, gourmet dining.
How do you care for someone with frontotemporal dementia?
If you’re caring for a loved one at home with frontotemporal dementia, you can make simple adjustments to make their activities of daily living easier.
Adjustments might include:
- Installing additional railings or lighting in the home
- Removing rugs or objects that can make movement difficult
- Providing ways to simplify daily tasks
The best course of action is to create and maintain a calm environment for your loved one with a set routine and assist them with regular exercise and activities.
Because frontotemporal dementia is progressive, there may come a time when caregiving is too much for you physically, emotionally, mentally, or financially.
The Kensington Reston: Your caregiving partner for loved ones with dementia
The Kensington Reston is ready and able to handle all of the care needs of your loved one with dementia.
We provide a safe, happy, loving environment for your loved one to thrive — an environment built on trust and a deep understanding of when to step in to help and when to step back and respect a person’s independence.
In addition to rehabilitation services, gourmet dining, and 24-7 care, we also provide:
- Customized calendars of life enrichment activities to encourage friendships and best cater to what residents enjoy doing
- Primary care manager program
- Full-time registered nurse who coordinates care
- Medication administration
- Exceptional memory care in three customized “neighborhoods,” K Club, Connections, and Haven
Our specialized memory care neighborhoods consider not only the needs of the residents but the needs and preferences of the entire family.
Our three distinct neighborhoods meet specific levels of need, with Kensington Club for those with early onset, Connections designed for those in the early to middle stages of dementia, and Haven for those in the middle to late stages.
All neighborhoods are cozy, intimate, and secure, and the staff is trained to meet your loved ones where they are.
To learn more about our assisted living and memory care services, please contact us to speak with our team.
You also can check out our suites and floor plans, and the following caregiver resources:
We look forward to hearing from you!