Dementia is not only a disease that affects the elderly, but it can also affect young people. Frontotemporal dementia occurs before Alzheimer’s disease.
Although the number of dementia cases increases steadily with age, the neurological disease sometimes affects young people as well. The so-called frontotemporal dementia (FTD) usually begins on average between the ages of 50 and 60, thus before Alzheimer’s dementia. According to the German Alzheimer’s Association e. V., nerve cells die in the disease, especially in the frontal and temporal regions (= frontal and temporal lobes) of the brain. These areas of the brain normally control emotions and social behaviour.
Frontotemporal dementia: occurs at a younger age – thus before Alzheimer’s disease
The youngest FTD sufferers develop the disease in the third decade of life. Although the disease usually occurs early on, some people may develop it later in life. Typical signs at the onset of the disease are changes in personality and interpersonal behaviour. Relatives usually notice some apathy, but also irritability, tactlessness, and inhibition in sufferers. In addition, FTD can also manifest as pronounced speech disorders. In particular, word search disorders and naming disorders are classic symptoms.
Unlike Alzheimer’s disease, memory impairment only occurs as this type of dementia progresses. These are usually less noticeable than in Alzheimer’s patients. Because FTD manifests primarily through behavioral and personality changes in onset, it can be difficult to diagnose. Finally, because of the similar symptoms, it is difficult to differentiate between mental disorders such as burnout, depression, schizophrenia, or mania, and confusion can sometimes arise. Treatment is also made more difficult by the fact that sufferers usually show little insight into the disease or motivation for treatment.
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Frontotemporal dementia: treatment and treatment options
There are currently no specific treatment options for FTD, since it is largely unknown how neurons die. However, the behavioral problems of those affected can be alleviated with the help of medication. Serotonergic antidepressants are usually used, which can increase motivation and sometimes make patients more balanced. In addition, attempts are being made to alleviate symptoms through physical stimulation and creative therapies.
This article only contains general information on the relevant health topic and is therefore not intended for self-diagnosis, treatment or medication. It does not in any way replace a visit to the doctor. Unfortunately, our editors are not permitted to answer individual questions about clinical images.
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