11 Signs of Frontotemporal Dementias or Pick’s Disease

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Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD), formerly referred to as Pick’s Disease, is an umbrella term for a variety of disorders that cause the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain to shrink.

Since these areas are responsible for a person’s behavior, personality, and language, people affected with FTD can undergo dramatic behavioral changes that negatively affect themselves and their loved ones.

Since memory isn’t an issue at first and FTD tends to occur at a younger age than most other dementias (often between 40 and 75 years), dementia is often overlooked as a cause.

Getting an early and accurate diagnosis is key to managing future emotional, physical, and financial challenges, which is why we’ve put together a list of the eleven most common signs of Frontotemporal Dementias for you to be aware of:

1. Impulsive, inappropriate behaviors and speech

Your frontal lobe, located behind your forehead, regulates your behaviors and impulses. As FTD begins to affect this area of the brain, people might suddenly begin to say rude or mean things to others, or become entirely uninhibited in pleasure-seeking activities such as food, drinking, or sex.

2. Loss of interpersonal skills and/or empathy

As FTD progresses, a person’s ability to see things from another person’s point of view diminishes. A previously compassionate and caring person might suddenly be non-responsive to another’s distress, or may no longer correctly respond to common social cues.

3. Apathy

Often mistaken as depression, a person with FTD might become fairly withdrawn, self-centered, and emotionally distant.

4. Decreasing Self-Awareness and Personal Hygiene

A person affected by FTD will have less and less self-awareness as the disease progresses. A lack of concern about their personal appearance is common, making them appear increasingly unkempt over time.

5. Lack of reasoning and logic (making poor decisions)

As the frontal lobe shrinks, a person’s ability to reason decreases while impulsivity increases, making it more likely for them to suddenly begin making unsafe or financially damaging decisions.

6. Repetitive Compulsive Behaviors

People living with FTD might develop Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), an anxiety disorder that is characterized by unwanted and repetitive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that drive them to do something (compulsions).

7. Inability to Plan or Concentrate

Planning requires us to be able to think in a step-by-step process. When a person’s brain is affected by FTD, they are less and less able to concentrate and initiate steps to successfully sequence them (Step A => Step B => Step C, etc.).

8. Sudden and Frequent Mood Changes

A person with FTD might be sad one moment and euphoric just a short while later. Erratic and unpredictable mood changes can occur as the brain change progresses.

9. Speech and Language Difficulties

Depending on the type of FTD, a person’s ability to verbalize and comprehend language can become increasingly challenging as the temporal lobes begin to change. The affected person might speak very slowly, have trouble finding the right words, or be unable to name objects.

10. Balance and Movement Problems

Some types of FTD cause mobility problems similar to those observed with Parkinsons disease. These can include muscle weakness, balance issues, tremors, rigidity, muscle spasms, and poor coordination.

11. Memory Loss

Unlike Alzheimers disease, those living with FTD commonly don’t suffer from memory issues and are able to keep track of day-to-day events until the condition progresses into a more advanced stage.

Always Remember:

Difficult behaviors displayed by a person living with a form of Frontotemporal dementia are not out of ill-will, but are symptoms of a changing brain.

If you have a loved one living with this condition, remind yourself that he/she has little or no awareness and is unable to control these challenging situations.

Planning ahead and learning how to best manage challenging situations can greatly help ease this difficult journey.

We’ve included a few excerpts of Teepa Snow’ s program Understanding Frontotemporal Dementias below to help you get started.

How to Connect with a Person Living with Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)

Understanding Frontotemporal Dementias (FTD) - Insights to Resistance

77 Comments on “11 Signs of Frontotemporal Dementias or Pick’s Disease”

  1. Avatar

    I would like to be added to your email. My husband has been diagnosed for three years. This is so hard to live with and so many do not understand.

    1. EmilioS

      Hi Karen, per your request, I have added you to our email newsletter. Hope you have a great afternoon!

  2. Avatar

    Thank you for highlighting FTD. There needs to be more education on this type of dementia. Even with a diagnosis there’s not much understanding within Memory Care facilities. I’m forwarding this to the nursing staff caring for my mother.

  3. Avatar

    Please add me to your FTD email list. This was very helpful and I need to know more.

    Looking forward to spending with you in New Richmond at the conference!

  4. Avatar

    If you order the “Streaming online” option can you save it and view it more than once?
    I am most interested in mastering the hand holding technique Teepa shows.
    Thanks so much.

    1. EmilioS

      Hi Toni! I have updated your preferences on our email list per your request. Have a wonderful afternoon!

    1. EmilioS

      Hi Judy! I have updated your email preferences on our list as requested. Hope you have a great evening!

  5. Avatar

    Please add me to your email list. Awareness of FTD needs to be raised to professionals and the general public.

  6. Avatar

    My husband passed away in March of this year from FTD. The police, magistrates in districts near our home treated him with no compassion at all. I paid numerous fines and attorney fees. I explained the nature of his illness, but it didn’t seem to matter to them. I had to be his advocate. I hope no other family has to be treated the way my husband and I were.

  7. Avatar

    Hi I tried being added to your email list below but it said the link is broken. Can you add me please.

    1. EmilioS

      Hi Dorothy, I have added you to our email newsletter as requested. Hope you have a wonderful evening.

    1. Valerie Feurich

      Hi Kathy! I have added you to our email newsletter as requested. Wishing you a wonderful day!

  8. Avatar

    I’m at a loss. My husband has at least 5 symptoms of the 11 in your article. I asked his doctor to do more testing that the neuropsych test. The doctor asked why expose a patient to radiation if there is no cure and the outcome is known? I can’t go outside of the VA medical system without a referral. Where do I turn from here?

    1. Valerie Feurich

      Dear Tara, I am very sorry to hear you and your husband are going through this! I have shared your message with our consultant team, as they’ll be able to best assist you. They’re going to add their response here soon.
      Best wishes, Valerie

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