Frontotemporal dementia

Frontotemporal dementia is relatively rare compared to Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia. Unlike more common types of dementia, which occur more frequently with increasing age, frontotemporal dementia tends to start at a younger age (40-65 years).

In frontotemporal dementia, the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain become damaged. Like many other types of dementia, this damage is partly caused by the abnormal build-up of proteins in the brain. When the frontal lobes are damaged, this leads to a form of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) known as “behavioural variant FTD”. When the damage is mainly confined to the temporal lobes, this leads to a type of FTD known as “primary progressive aphasia”.

Symptoms of frontotemporal dementia

People with behavioural variant FTD often have trouble controlling their behaviour, and may say inappropriate things or become emotionally withdrawn. These behavioural changes become more pronounced and unmanageable as the disease progresses. Language and memory are usually not affected until the late stages of disease.  

People with primary progressive aphasia often experience problems with speech and language. They may forget the meaning of words, speak differently, or say the opposite of what they mean. As well as gradually losing the ability to communicate, people with primary progressive aphasia may have delusions or hallucinations, experiencing memory loss and problems with day-to-day activities.