More About Frontotemporal Dementia

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD), a common cause of dementia, is a group of disorders that occur when nerve cells in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain are lost. This causes the lobes to shrink. FTD can affect behavior, personality, language, and movement.

These disorders are among the most common dementias that strike at younger ages. Symptoms typically start between the ages of 40 and 65, but FTD can strike young adults and those who are older. FTD affects men and women equally.

The most common types of FTD are:

  • Frontal variant. This form of FTD affects behavior and personality.
  • Primary progressive aphasia. Aphasia means difficulty communicating. This form has two subtypes:
    • Progressive nonfluent aphasia, which affects the ability to speak. 
    • Semantic dementia, which affects the ability to use and understand language.  

A less common form of FTD affects movement, causing symptoms similar to Parkinson disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease).

  • Frontotemporal dementia is a group of disorders characterized by the loss of nerve cells in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, which causes these lobes to shrink. The cause of FTD is unknown.
  • Symptoms typically first occur between the ages of 40 and 65 and can include changes in personality and behavior, progressive loss of speech and language skills, and sometimes physical symptoms such as tremors or spasms.
  • FTD tends to progress over time. Treatments can't cure the disease, but some medicines and other treatments, such as speech therapy can sometimes help with symptoms. If you have FTD, you may eventually need full-time nursing care, or to stay in an assisted living facility or nursing home.