The Valerie Foundation

Frontotemporal Dementia

Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD), like the term 'dementia' is an umbrella term. FTD is a dementia that breaks down into other dementia subtypes that attack the 'Frontal Lobe' or 'Temporal Lobe' of the brain (sometimes both). FTD is where Heeley City Farm's Dementia Department specialties lie. As they have over a decade experience with this disease.

With FTD people can have one type of FTD or could have more than one type and in that reason have a varied array of symptoms.


Symptoms are a disorder of semantic knowledge (our understanding of concept and facts). Symptoms can include...

  • Language problems, such as difficulty finding the right words
  • The loss of understanding of words
  • An inability to recognise objects i.e not recognising that a dog is a dog
  • An inability to recognise faces

Can cause people to have difficulty producing speech

  • In some people this is because of a problem with grammar causing them to use incorrect tense or missing words out like 'the' or 'and'
  • In others it is because of a difficulty in planning how the speech muscle will produce words, apraxia of speech, causing people to have difficulty articulating words or a stutter

Unlike Semantic Dementia, understanding of words is not affected in the early stages

bvFTD the commonest form of FTD

 Symptoms are changes in peoples behaviour. Symptoms can include...

  • Change in personality or behaviour
  • Difficulties with the thinking that helps planning and problem solving (executive function)
  • Socially inappropriate behaviour (uninhibited or losing manners)
  • Withdrawing from social life
  • Becoming more apathetic
  • Becoming less sympathetic/empathetic to people
  • May become very obsessive or develop rituals
  • Appetite changes - becoming interest in certain types of food, more often than not, sweet things
  • Occasionally people may develop odd delusional thoughts and have visual hallucinations

Unlike Alzheimer's, memory is usually not affected in the early stages but there may be problems with the executive function and understanding of other emotions


Can causechanges in the ability to speak, read, write and understand what others are saying

  • Problems with word retrieval (word-finding), it appears that people with LPA retain the underlying meaning of words
  • A slow rate of speech although the mechanics (motor skills) needed to produce speech is not affected
  • Sentence and phrase repetition is impaired
  • Reading and writing abilities may be preserved longer than speech but will eventually decline as well
  • Mutisms will come with progression
  • Difficulty swallowing may develop late in the course of illness

About 10% of people with FTD will develop Motor Neuron Disease (MND) causing weakness in arms, legs and in the muscle that control speech and swallowing. This occurs in association with bvFTD, occasionally with PNFA, and only very rarely with SD