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Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD): An Overview

To understand Bob’s struggle, one first must understand the nature of his illness—Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD). This form of dementia (there are approximately 55 different types) typically strikes adults at a relatively early age. Patients do not usually experience memory loss in the early stages, as do Alzheimer’s patients. Over the first few years, they are able to maintain language and visual perception capabilities.

Ultimately, however, they fall victim to changes in personality. They lose social skills and reasoning powers. Motivation and concentration abilities wane, and individuals stop relating (socially and emotionally) in usual ways. Since brain degeneration is not widespread in this early stage, afflicted individuals generally retain memory function. The disease, however, begins to attack brain areas that control reasoning, judgment and the ability to take initiative. 

FTD poses special psychological, social, family, and financial problems. Issues that frequently differ in nature from those associated with Alzheimer’s type dementia. FTD strikes relatively early in life, often at a time when an individual is dealing with career challenges and family demands. Many afflicted individuals have not approached retirement age, and the impairment can seriously jeopardize the family’s financial position and overall security.

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