The nervous system is incredibly complex, and there are over 600 diseases that can affect it. One group of nervous system diseases is Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD). It causes roughly 10-20 percent of dementia cases, and the onset of symptoms usually comes between the ages of 40 and 65.
The name comes from the areas of the brain that are affected: the frontal and temporal lobes. According to the National Institute on Aging, these areas are associated with behavior, language, and personality. FTD causes damage to the neurons in these parts of the brain.
Because of the regions targeted by FTD, the disease generally looks different from other types of dementia. Some changes patients experience can be difficult for loved ones to understand or deal with. Here’s what you should know about the symptoms of FTD in Bayside residents and how to live with them.
Signs of Frontotemporal Dementia
FTD typically impacts speech, language, emotions, behavior, and motor functions. Although the disease looks different for each person, there is a wide range of symptoms that are associated with it. This doesn’t mean that everyone with FTD will experience all these symptoms; the disease typically affects one area more than others in each patient. For example, if your loved one experiences more damage in the language center of their brain, they will typically have more problems with communication.
Here are some of the range of symptoms you may see:
- Struggling with understanding or using language, both written and spoken.
- Forgetting the meanings of words.
- Difficulty with thinking of the names of objects.
- Speech slows down or sounds hesitant.
- Sentence construction becomes scrambled.
- A lack of empathy for how others feel.
- Inappropriate social behavior.
- Poor judgment.
- Reduced inhibition.
- Apathy about life.
- Compulsive, repetitive actions, such as clapping or tapping their foot.
- Changed eating habits, usually eating more carbohydrate-rich foods or overeating.
- Compulsively putting things in the mouth or eating inedible objects.
- Muscle rigidity or tremor.
- Poor coordination.
- Trouble swallowing.
- Muscle spasms or weakness.
- Laughing or crying for no reason.
- Trouble walking.
- Frequent falls.
What Can You Do About Frontotemporal Dementia?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease. The symptoms can be managed with the help of a team of medical specialists, but FTD is progressive. The hardest part of the disease for most people is watching their loved one’s behavior change. If you’re caring for someone with FTD, there are ways to take some of the strain of these changes off both of you.
Try not to argue.
Remind yourself that it’s the illness causing the behavior and that your loved one is not trying to upset you.
Redirect their attention.
If your loved one is doing something upsetting or unsafe, try to get them to pay attention to something else, instead of convincing them to stop what they’re doing. If they could understand what they’re doing is wrong, they wouldn’t be doing it.
Maintain a regular schedule.
Getting up at the same time every day, having a regular routine, getting exercise, and going to bed at the same time all help create a calm atmosphere and encourage good sleep.
Manage the environment.
Little changes, such as reducing clutter, can help make the home easier to navigate without confusion.
Encourage your loved one to stay active with positive choices.
Apathy can make it difficult to make decisions, so offering options to choose from can make it a little easier. For example, ask if they want to walk to the park or around the block, instead of asking if they want to go on a walk.
Due to the progressive nature of FTD, the solutions you find will have to be revisited frequently. This doesn’t mean you’re not coping well, just that your loved one will need an evolving approach to their care as they change. It’s easy to feel discouraged when something that used to help stops working, but that’s the nature of a progressive disease.
Support is Vital
Because patients with FTD sometimes act inappropriately, it’s very important that caregivers understand their disease. Someone who doesn’t understand the symptoms is likely to get offended, instead of having compassion for their struggles. Patients with FTD are sometimes judged for their behavior, but they deserve supportive care just as much as anyone else.
Support groups for the families of FTD sufferers are a great place to find creative answers to problems. Another important resource is experienced caregivers who have practice with navigating the symptoms of the disease. For example, the experienced caregivers at David York Home Healthcare Agency are familiar with many neurological diseases, including FTD.
David York Agency Home Healthcare Helps Seniors in Bayside
At David York Agency, we understand the many challenges and risks faced by the aging and elderly and are dedicated to providing care to support them through all of those ups and downs. At David York Home Healthcare Agency, extraordinary service is what sets us apart from other companies in Bayside that provide in-home health care services.
DYA provides direction as to how to manage the total care of your senior loved one. Whatever your care needs, we are there for you, always striving to exceed your expectations. For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at (718) 376-7755. A free phone consultation can help you determine what services would meet your needs. We aim to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn.