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The Difference Between Alzheimer’s Disease and Frontotemporal Dementia

The Difference Between Alzheimer’s Disease and Frontotemporal Dementia

The Difference Between Alzheimer’s Disease and Frontotemporal Dementia

Both Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia (FTD) are types of progressive brain diseases. The senior affected by either will experience a gradual loss of function. However, the two conditions are distinct in many ways, and the following are the characteristics that differentiate them.

Firstly, it is important to know that both Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia are causes of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia in older people. Frontotemporal dementia, too, is considered to be a common cause of dementia.

Difference 1: Age of onset

Alzheimer’s disease strikes people who are aged 65 and older. Advancing age is the number one risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease. However, Alzheimer’s is not a normal aspect of aging. Early onset Alzheimer’s disease is also possible in younger age groups, specifically those under 65.

Symptoms of frontotemporal dementia can start in younger people, primarily those between the ages of 40 and 65. Younger adults as well as older adults are not immune to the disease, either. Certain types of frontotemporal dementia can emerge in people who are in their 20s as well as 80s.

Difference 2: Affected brain regions

The destruction and death of nerve cells in the brain are responsible for the many cognitive problems experienced by Alzheimer’s patients. Plaques and tangles develop in areas of the brain important to memory, then spread to other regions. Communication between nerve cells is blocked, and cells die.

In Alzheimer’s patients, the damage occurs in the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex, areas of the brain responsible for memory function. As Alzheimer’s progresses, more neurons die. Affected parts of the brain continue to shrink. During the final stages of the disease, brain tissue has shrunk significantly.

When brain cells die, the elderly individual’s memory begins to fail. Alzheimer’s disease also causes personality changes in patients. The senior has difficulty executing everyday activities independently. Eventually, as the disease advances, the senior will depend on caregivers to function in daily life.

Frontotemporal dementia develops when nerve cells in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain become damaged, and the lobes shrink. As a result of the loss, the patient loses function in these areas. Frontotemporal dementia causes changes in behavior, personality, movement, and language.

Difference 3: Symptoms

Memory problems, such as having trouble recalling newly learned information, is the earliest sign of Alzheimer’s disease. As brain cells fail in Alzheimer’s patients, more serious memory loss can occur, in addition to a range of other symptoms that affect cognition.

Alzheimer’s patients will become disoriented, experience mood and behavior changes, and be confused about time, places, or events. Seniors may have unfounded suspicions about family and caregivers. As the disease progresses, the patient will have increasing difficulty walking, speaking, and swallowing.

Symptoms in the elderly who live with frontotemporal dementia vary, depending on the specific parts of the brain involved. Common problems in patients include frequent mood changes, reduced speech and hesitation when speaking, becoming easily distracted, and difficulty planning and organizing.

The patient affected by frontotemporal dementia will no longer be interested in normal, everyday activities. Apathy is common. Socially, the senior may be impulsive or inappropriate. Impaired judgment, loss of energy, and a lack of empathy can emerge. The patient may no longer understand language.

Difference 4: Outlook

Alzheimer’s disease progresses in stages. The first noticeable symptoms, such as cognitive challenges and greater memory loss, point to mild Alzheimer’s disease. Seniors may wander, have trouble paying bills, or take longer to complete ordinary tasks. Diagnosis is usually made at the early stage.

Moderate Alzheimer’s disease develops when areas of the brain that control language and reasoning become damaged. Memory loss worsens, and patients no longer recognize family and friends. When the condition becomes severe and the body shuts down, the senior relies heavily on others for care.

After diagnosis, a person suffering from Alzheimer’s disease usually lives about four to eight years. However, depending on individual factors, an Alzheimer’s patient can survive for up to 20 years. Preclinical Alzheimer’s disease is when changes in the brain begin years before symptoms appear.

Frontotemporal dementia is non-life threatening. Patients with the condition can live for years. However, seniors who suffer from frontotemporal dementia are at risk for developing other diseases, as well as pneumonia, infections, and fall-related injuries, that can be more serious.

Both Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia have no cure. As symptoms worsen over time, seniors affected by either disease will require constant care at home or in a nursing facility. Medicines and speech therapies, however, can alleviate symptoms arising from frontotemporal dementia.

Seniors are encouraged to stay healthy as they age to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. The elderly should consume nutritious meals, engage in regular physical activity, and remain socially involved. Professional caregivers can support a healthy lifestyle.

Dementia Care Lombard Illinois

Assisting Hands Home Care is a recognized leader in senior care. Our compassionate caregivers are experienced in all aspects of nonmedical home care and ensure that the elderly are fully supported with the activities of daily living and experience fulfilling, dignified lives.

We offer quality Alzheimer’s and dementia care to affected seniors. Professional caregivers from our memory care teams are trained to identify the various symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. We understand symptoms are part of the disease and take steps to reduce their effects on the patient.

Our home care services include help with personal hygiene, transportation to doctor’s offices or to complete errands, meal preparation, light housekeeping, grocery shopping, and medication reminders. Caregivers from our home care agency are also excellent companions, deterring loneliness and isolation.

The abovementioned services from Assisting Hands Home Care are critical to the well-being of seniors affected by Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Plus, dementia patients who age in place have the benefit of remaining in a familiar environment, which facilitates important feelings of comfort and security.

Families with seniors living in Addison, Bensenville, Elmhurst, Glendale Heights, Itasca, Lombard, Medinah, and Villa Park, IL, Illinois, are encouraged to call Assisting Hands Home Care for the most reliable in-home Alzheimer’s and dementia memory care services in the community. We will stop by to conduct an in-home evaluation and develop a customized care plan. Call us at (630) 526-6522 to schedule today.