Although both frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and Alzheimer’s can result in dementia, the affected brain regions and, as a result, the symptoms differ significantly between the two. Knowing the differences between frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer’s might assist in lowering the incidence of misdiagnosis, which may promote early treatment, better health outcomes, and improved life quality.
Understanding the distinction between Alzheimer’s and Frontotemporal Dementia
Dementia is an umbrella word used to represent a range of symptoms linked to a decline in memory, thinking, reasoning, or other cognitive skills rather than a specific disease. Frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer’s are two of the several causes of dementia.
The Brain Regions They Affect
The fundamental distinction between frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer’s is the brain regions they impact. Frontotemporal dementia, as its name suggests, predominantly affects the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. The frontal and temporal lobes are typically related to personality, language, and behavior and are crucial for some cognitive processes. The frontal lobe is essential for performing higher-level executive functions, including judgment, reasoning, emotional regulation, and problem-solving. On the other hand, the temporal lobe plays a role in processing auditory data and encoding memories.
Contrarily, Alzheimer’s typically affects multiple brain regions with the disease progression. In the early stages, the disease affects the entorhinal cortex and hippocampus, which are critical for memory and learning. Later in the disease’s progression, it may deteriorate the cerebral cortex, which includes the frontal, parietal, temporal, and occipital lobes and is involved in memory, personality, behavior, language, speech, sensorimotor planning, spatial recognition, and visual perception and processing, among other things.
The Age of Onset
The timing of onset is another chief distinction between Alzheimer’s and frontotemporal dementia. Alzheimer’s affects adults aged 65 and over. The most significant risk indicator for acquiring Alzheimer’s is advancing age, but it is not a normal part of healthy aging. Contrarily, most patients with FTD are diagnosed between 40 and 60 years.
The Difference in Symptoms
Frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer’s differ significantly; however, it can be difficult to distinguish between the two in clinical settings. Although early symptoms of FTD and Alzheimer’s can resemble one another in later stages, early stages are critical for getting an early, correct diagnosis since early stages symptoms are frequently quite different.
There are several differences between the symptoms of both disorders.
- Memory loss is more prevalent in early Alzheimer’s than in early Frontotemporal dementia. However, advanced FTD frequently induces memory loss in addition to its more typical impact on language and behavior.
- Behavioral changes are frequently the initial indications of bvFTD, the most prevalent type of FTD. Changes in behavior are frequent as Alzheimer’s advances, but they tend to appear later in the disease.
- The occurrence of spatial orientation problems, such as becoming lost in familiar surroundings, is higher in Alzheimer’s than in FTD.
- Although individuals with Alzheimer’s may struggle to find the proper word or remember names, they may experience less difficulty making sense when speaking, following others’ speech, or reading than those with FTD.
- When Alzheimer’s disease worsens, delusions and hallucinations become more frequent; however, they are less common in FTD.
Memory loss is a common early indication of Alzheimer’s, whereas personality changes, behavioral problems, and linguistic difficulties are typical early signs of frontotemporal dementia. Also, it is crucial to remember that there are two main categories of FTD, each having a unique set of symptoms. Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) is related to a decline in speaking, language, writing, and comprehension, whereas behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) is associated with behavior and personality changes.
The best likelihood of a successful therapeutic outcome, especially for Alzheimer’s, is thought to come from early diagnosis and intervention. The key to decreasing the rate of misdiagnosis and improving patient outcomes can be early and regular neurocognitive testing, employing highly-sensitive neurocognitive evaluations.
- How Is Frontotemporal Dementia Different From Alzheimer’s?. Altoida. https://altoida.com/blog/frontotemporal-dementia-different-from-alzheimers/. Published online: 8th Dec, 2022. Accessed: 27th March, 2023.
- Frontotemporal Dementia. Alzheimer’s Association. https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-dementia/types-of-dementia/frontotemporal-dementia. Accessed: 27th March, 2023.
- The Difference Between Alzheimer’s Disease and Frontotemporal Dementia. Assisted Hands. https://www.assistinghands-il-wi.com/blog/alzheimers-disease-vs-frontotemporal-dementia/. Accessed: 27th March, 2023.