Frontotemporal Dementia: Introduction

Did you know?

The Pick's Disease Support Group website has a section for caregiver stories and experiences. Read "Pick's from the inside out", the story of Dr. Bob Fay and his experience living with frontotemporal dementia.

Frontotemporal dementia is the name given to a group of progressive dementias that primarily affect an individual’s personality, behavior, and speech. Diseases in this group include the following:

  • Pick’s Disease
  • Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration
  • Progressive Aphasia (problems speaking)
  • Semantic Dementia (problems understanding language)
  • Corticobasal Degeneration (includes decreased movement)

How Frontotemporal Dementia Differs From Other Forms of Dementia

Unlike most other forms of dementia, memory is not affected in people with frontotemporal dementia (FTD) until later in the disease. FTD mainly affects different parts of the brain than are affected by other forms of dementia: the frontal and temporal lobes. Also, this form of dementia strikes people at a relatively younger age — usually between the ages of 40 and 60. However, FTD can affect individuals both younger and older than this range.

How Common Is Frontotemporal Dementia?

Among relatively younger adults, FTD is the 2nd most common dementia after early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. 250,000 Americans are estimated to be affected by Frontotemporal Dementia (AFTD 2010). For individuals over 65, frontotemporal dementia is the 4th most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, and Lewy body dementia (Brust, 2006).

More About Causes and Symptoms

Causes, risk factors, and symptoms of FTD are somewhat different from other forms of dementia. Follow the links below to learn more.

More About Diagnosis and Treatment

Approaches to diagnosis and treatment of frontotemporal dementia are similar to other forms of dementia. Follow the links below to learn more.

Suggestions for Caregivers

Frontotemporal dementia can be especially difficult for caregivers to deal with because, unlike other forms of dementia, it can affect younger individuals who are still working or who have children in the home. This disease can affect decision-making abilities early on, so it is important to begin making financial and legal decisions soon after the disease starts. In addition to setting up a Durable Power of Attorney, caregivers should also consider having a driving evaluation for their loved ones, before driving becomes a problem.

Care partners should encourage their loved ones to participate in support groups for individuals with frontotemporal dementia, whether online or in person. These interactions can be an important way to deal with a disease that other people often do not understand.

For other recommendations on caregiving or frontotemporal dementia, look through the rest of our Caregiver Tips section and visit the links below.

View References

Ratnavalli E, et al. The prevalence of frontotemporal dementia. Neurology. 2002. Jun 11;58(11):1615-21

Brust, JCM, Marder, K, et al. Current Diagnosis and Treatment in Neurology. The McGraw-Hill Companies. 2006.

The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration. (2010). Frontotemporal Dementia. Available at Retrieved on July 19, 2010.


Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)

Source: University of California, San Francisco Memory and Aging Center
Description: This web page provides extensive information on the group of diseases that fall under the category of frontotemporal dementia and discusses the demographics, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of the disease. There is also a section that compares the symptoms of frontotemporal dementia to those of Alzheimer's disease.

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NINDS Frontotemporal Dementia Information Page

Source: National Institute of Neurological Disorder and Stroke (NINDS)
Description: This web page describes frontotemporal dementia, including the two clinical patterns: problems with language and changes in behavior. It also discusses the genetic components of the disease, treatment, prognosis, and current research. Links to other resources on FTD and to current studies seeking patients are provided.

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The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration Homepage

Source: The Association for Frontotemporal Dementias
Description: This national non-profit organization's website offers support to caregivers through newsletters, online videos, caregiver guides, support groups, and other resources. The group also promotes and funds research into finding the cause and a cure for frontotemporal dementias.

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Related Dementias: Frontotemporal Dementia

Source: UCSF
Description: This web page describes frontotemporal dementia, how it affects a person, diagnosis, risk factors, and treatment.

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What is Frontotemporal Dementia (Including Pick's Disease)?

Source: Alzheimer's Society (United Kingdom)
Description: This web page gives a brief introduction to frontotemporal dementias, discusses who is affected; personality and behavior changes, language problems, and other symptoms; later stages of the disease; diagnosis; genetic components; treatments; and suggested reading.

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Journal Articles on Frontotemporal Dementia

Source: Neurology
Description: This list of scientific journal articles provides links to abstracts, full text, and PDFs of articles on issues related to frontotemporal dementia.

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Home Page - Frontotemporal Dementia (Pick's Disease)

Source: Frontotemporal Dementia Caregiver Support Center
Description: This website provides a starting point for people looking for more information on frontotemporal dementias. The website gives hundreds of links to websites and articles about issues related to frontotemporal dementia, as well as recommended books, and a list of internet and local support groups.

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Homepage of the FTD Support Forum

Source: FTD Support Forum
Description: This international support group, offers a medium for caregivers of different types of frontotemporal dementias to meet online and share information through a discussion forum and chat room.

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Diagnosis of Frontotemporal Dementia

Source: The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration
Description: This web page describes some of the tests that may be used to diagnose frontotemporal dementia, such as blood work, neurological exams, EEGs, MRIs, and many others.

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