Diagnosis Frontal Lobe Dementia - What You Need to Know

Frontal lobe dementia is part of a larger set of brain diseases called Frontotemporal Dementias (FTD). In each of these disease the frontal or temporal lobes of the brain are damaged by abnormal formations of the brain protein tau. The tau may be abnormally formed, present in too large an amount or not present at all. The result of an imbalance of the protein tau leads to brain atrophy, the growth of tumors, the development of Pick's bodies or swelling in the brain with fluid.

The frontal lobe of the brain is responsible for what are called executive functions in the brain. Damage to this area causes on going changes in emotional response and use of language. Since the brain damage starts at a younger age than most dementias, individuals are sometimes misdiagnosed with a mental illness.

Your family member may exhibit striking personality changes such as a formerly considerate person becoming indifferent to other people's feelings. People with FTD may also engage in other socially inappropriate behaviors such as reckless spending, swearing, overeating, drinking to excess and poor personal hygiene. Some individuals become sexually hyperactive. Your family member will be unaware that her behavior is inappropriate. She may also experience strong mood swings.

When the language center of the brain is damaged, your family member may experience difficulty speaking in understandable sentences, finding the right word for an object or misunderstand word meanings.

Things to consider when faced with a diagnosis of Frontal lobe dementia

  1. Find a doctor who has experience dealing with FTD to manage your family member's care.
  2. Join a support group and consider ongoing one on one support from a professional to help you cope with the challenging behavior changes that your family member is undergoing.
  3. Build a long term plan of how you will care for your family member. Your family member's need for care will increase as the years pass and challenging behaviors may prevent her from living at home.
  4. Put appropriate safeguards in place to prevent over spending, over eating and other self destructive behaviors.

To learn more about FTD and related diseases, follow this link.
Association for Frontotemporal Dementias

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