Mental health articles

OF mental health care and mentally ill

frontotemporal lobe dementia symptoms

Fronto-temporal lobe dementia is a rare form of dementia accounting for approximately

5% of all dementias. It is more likely to affect people under 65 years, and affects both men and women. Causes of this type of dementia vary, with 50% of those developing it having a family history, which usually has a specific pattern associated with the progression of the disease. Causes for those with no family history are uncertain.

Pick’s disease, dementia associated with motor neurone disease and fronto-lobe dementia is included in the term ‘fronto-temporal dementia’. A specific feature is damage to the frontal lobe and/or the temporal parts of the brain, which are responsible for behaviour, language and emotional responses. This results in very different features from those expected in people diagnosed with the dementias mentioned above.

Most significant is that the memory remains intact but behaviour and personality change, with the individual acting in a disinhibited manner or being obsessive and rigid when previously they were outgoing and flexible. Adapting to these changes can be difficult and extremely distressing for the family and friends. The specific changes to personality and behaviour are different for each person affected by the dementia.

Language problems are a common feature in people with fronto-temporal lobe dementia. This includes difficulty in finding the right words, not speaking at all,using many words with very little meaning or content and a lack of spontaneous speech. Specific changes in eating habits may also occur, such as overeating or eating sweet things. As the condition progresses, the features resemble those of Alzheimer’s disease, with the individual requiring all their daily needs to be met by carers. It is important to recognise that these symptoms have a physical cause and

cannot usually be controlled or contained by the person. An example of a family’s experience of Pick’s disease is demonstrated in the scenario below.

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