Frontotemporal Dementia

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) causes damage to brain cells in the frontal and temporal lobes.  FTD affects the individual’s personality significantly, usually resulting in a decline in social skills, coupled with emotional apathy.  The emotional deficits are extremely problematic and include lack of concern for a loved one’s illness, cruelty to children, animals and the elderly, lack of concern when others are sad, rude comments, loss of respect for intrapersonal space, socially inappropriate behaviors, and diminished response to pain. Repetition, indifference to boredom, perseveration and focus on unimportant issues are some of the behaviors of patients with FTD.  Unlike other types of dementia, FTD typically results in behavior and personality changes manifesting before memory loss and speech problems.  It is more common than Alzheimer’s in people younger than 60 years old.  Anti-psychotics and cholinesterase inhibitors are not appropriate for these patients although anti-depressants such as SSRI’s and the drug memantine may be helpful.