Frontotemporal Dementia: Identification and Management

Leah Wilfong, MS, AGPCNP-BC; Nancy E. Edwards, PhD, ANP-BC; Karen S. Yehle, PhD, FAHA; Karla Ross, MSN, ANP


Journal for Nurse Practitioners. 2016;12(4):277-282. 

In This Article

Caregiver Support

The nature of FTD produces unique challenges and stressors for caregivers related to the patient's behaviors that result from their impulsivity, poor judgment, and apathy. Disease progression can manifest as sexually inappropriate behavior, shoplifting, spending sprees, and excessive eating or alcohol consumption, causing caregivers to experience frustration and embarrassment in public situations.[18] Stress can also accumulate for the family members as they grieve the loss of their loved ones' personality and identity. This is particularly distressing as degeneration results in apathy, disinterest in relationships or activities, and a loss of ability to recognize family members. The younger onset of FTD, as compared with other dementias, may heighten the challenges as family caregivers struggle to understand and accept the emotional, personality, and behavioral changes and the impact the behaviors have on the entire family.[3]

Over time, these changes that occur in individuals with FTD present caregivers with emotional, physical, and financial burdens. This increased stress can be exhibited as depression in caregivers.[18] Caregivers must be encouraged to connect with local, regional, and national organizations to obtain support and appropriate services. In addition, federal and private organizations may be useful for both the caregiver and provider in offering education and promoting awareness for FTD (Table 3).