Frontal temporal lobe dementia


This is a relatively rare form of dementia, it is believed that this accounts for between 2% and 5% of all dementias have damage to the frontal temporal lobe as their primary area of damage in the brain.


The frontal temporal lobe is the part of the brain underneath the forehead, so if somebody has been hit repeatedly in that area, such as heading a football, this would put the more risk from damage in that area of the brain. This area of the brain manages peoples “executive function”, which is the sequencing and processing functions. It also manages social etiquette as well as some language and some motor functions.


People with frontal temporal lobe dementia likely to present as having sequencing difficulties such as which order to do things and planning activities such as going on holiday. They would not know what to pack, as they wouldn’t think about packing a swimming costume for a sunshine holiday, warm coat for snow holiday. The ability to connect a future plan, where they’re going with what they might need to take with them would be beyond their understanding abilities.


The issue around social custom is that people will say and do what they would have only thought before, but not taking any action. I have often had the children of clients with frontal temporal lobe damage tell me that they had no idea their parent knew that sort of language, as they swear a lot, and they would never have said words like that when they were well. I also once had a client who was very flirty with me, telling me how pretty I was, which is an unusual behaviour for client with their solicitor, who is 30 years younger than they are. His brother was really embarrassed for him, even though I completely understood it to be part of his dementia and was in no way offended. I’ve also had family members complain that they are embarrassed when they go out, because they loved one will say things like “look at them…….” and point out the particular attributes in a very loud voice.


This lack of sociability can escalate to outright aggressive behaviour both verbally and/or physically and therefore although this is a relatively rare form of dementia, the problems that arise from it can be more than the average kind of dementia, particularly if they become paranoid and/or physically aggressive. This will appear to be a very significant change in personality and/or mood.


The person with dementia may also have some difficulty with their physical abilities to manage their body, such as difficulty in walking that they seem slow and unsteady as well as uncoordinated. They might have difficulty with their language, remembering words and remembering how words sound if they see them written down so they would have trouble forming the words with their mouth, as though the muscles in the jaw and/or tongue don’t work properly.


Sadly this particular form of dementia is more commonly diagnosed in younger people, from age 45+ rather than the more normal age range of 65+.


For more information regarding support in respect of this dementia, it is worthwhile contacting the GP and social care worker to find out what local support is available. As with all dementias, kindness, compassion and treating the person as an individual are always the right answer.


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