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Frontotemporal Dementia

There are many possible causes of dementia, though the most common cause, Alzheimer’s disease, comes easily to mind. Often the causes are multiple in each patient. A lesser known cause is frontotemporal dementia (FTD) which can have an early onset (before age 65) and has several different forms, one of which is behavioural variant (bvFTD). In this condition, areas of the frontal lobe of the brain may be affected, often causing a distinct personality change, with some of the key features of reduction in empathy, lack of insight into having a problem and a change in behaviour.

This can be highly confronting for carers and relatives, often made worse if there is a delay in the diagnosis of this quite rare disease, for example as a psychiatric disorder. Meeting the needs of people with frontotemporal disorder beyond diagnosis is a crucial, but sometimes overlooked step in achieving quality of life. Acknowledging that behaviours may be due to disease rather than a direct action of the patient may be helpful, and developing a comprehensive care plan alongside your doctor and allied health staff can be extremely helpful in maintaining choice and independence.

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