Health Advice



What is frontotemporal dementia?

Susan Barber Lindquist, Mayo Clinic News Network on

Published in Health & Fitness

• Avoiding activities that trigger the undesirable behavior.

• Maintaining a calm environment.

• Providing structured routines.

• Simplifying daily tasks.

• Distracting or redirecting attention from problem behaviors.

For language problems, speech therapy may be helpful. For motor disorders, physical and occupational therapy, along with structured exercises, may help strength, mobility and balance.

How is frontotemporal dementia different from Alzheimer's disease?


Alzheimer's disease is more common among people 75 and older. However, people with early onset Alzheimer's or frontotemporal dementia typically start exhibiting symptoms in midlife, from roughly age 30 to 60. Memory changes are less common with frontotemporal dementia than with Alzheimer's disease.

In FTD, dysfunctional proteins in the brain, called tau or TDP-43, may be drivers of disease. In Alzheimer's disease, amyloid and tau are the two dysfunctional proteins, and they can be measured in a patient's spinal fluid. The form of abnormal tau that can be involved in FTD is different than in Alzheimer's disease, which adds to the complexity of diagnosis when using biomarkers, Dr. Boeve says.

"There's a profile of those proteins that are very helpful to strongly support underlying Alzheimer's disease or strongly argue against underlying Alzheimer's disease," Dr. Boeve says. "We don't have those types of fluid biomarkers based on blood testing or cerebrospinal fluid yet for FTD, although that's an active area of research."

What resources are available?

Support groups and medical associations for the various frontotemporal degeneration disorders can help patients, their families and care partners cope.

"Establishing an early and accurate diagnosis of FTD is the first key step," Dr. Boeve says. "Then patients and their families can develop a comprehensive management program with their health care team. Engagement with other resources and national organizations committed to FTD care and research can provide additional methods to face the challenges ahead."

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