Home Health & Wellness Frontotemporal Dementia Life Expectancy: What You Need to Know

Frontotemporal Dementia Life Expectancy: What You Need to Know

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Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a progressive brain disorder that affects the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. These areas are responsible for personality, behaviour, and language. As the disease progresses, individuals with FTD experience a decline in their cognitive abilities, which can impact their life expectancy.

What is frontotemporal dementia?

Frontotemporal dementia is a group of disorders that affect the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. There are two main types of FTD: behavioural variant FTD (bvFTD) and primary progressive aphasia (PPA). BvFTD primarily affects personality and behaviour, while PPA affects language skills. Symptoms of FTD can include changes in personality, social behaviour, language abilities, and executive function (planning, organising, and problem-solving).

FTD is a relatively rare form of dementia, accounting for 5%–10% of all cases. It typically affects individuals between the ages of 45 and 65, although it can occur in individuals as young as their 20s or as old as their 80s.

Life expectancy in frontotemporal dementia

FTD is a progressive disease, which means that symptoms will worsen over time. As a result, life expectancy in individuals with FTD can vary. According to research, the average life expectancy for individuals with FTD is around 6-8 years from the onset of symptoms. However, this can vary depending on several factors, including the age of onset, the type of FTD, and the presence of other medical conditions.

  • Age of onset. The age of onset can play a significant role in life expectancy for individuals with FTD. Research has shown that individuals who develop FTD at a younger age tend to have a more rapid disease progression and a shorter life expectancy. For example, a study published in the journal Neurology found that individuals who developed FTD before the age of 60 had a shorter survival time than those who developed FTD after the age of 60.
  • Type of FTD. The type of FTD can also impact life expectancy. Individuals with bvFTD tend to have a shorter life expectancy than those with PPA.  A 2014 study found that individuals with bvFTD had a median survival time of 6.7 years, while those with PPA had a median survival time of 10.1 years.
  • Presence of other medical conditions. The presence of other medical conditions can also impact life expectancy in individuals with FTD. For example, individuals with FTD who have cardiovascular disease or diabetes may have a shorter life expectancy than those without these conditions. Additionally, individuals with FTD who experience significant weight loss or malnutrition may also have a shorter life expectancy.

Factors that can influence life expectancy in FTD

In addition to the factors mentioned above, there are several other factors that can influence life expectancy in individuals with FTD. These include:

  • Disease severity. The severity of FTD symptoms can impact life expectancy. Individuals with more severe symptoms tend to have a shorter life expectancy than those with milder symptoms.
  • Caregiver support. The quality of caregiver support can impact life expectancy in individuals with FTD. Research has shown that individuals with FTD who have high-quality caregiver support tend to live longer than those with poor-quality support.
  • Medication management. Proper medication management can help slow the progression of FTD and improve quality of life. Individuals with FTD who are able to effectively manage their medication tend to have a longer life expectancy.

Treatment and care for frontotemporal dementia

While there is currently no cure for FTD, there are treatments and care strategies that can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. Medications such as antidepressants and antipsychotics can be prescribed to manage mood and behaviour changes. Speech therapy can help improve language skills, while occupational therapy can help with daily living activities.

In addition to medical treatments, caregivers can play a crucial role in providing support for individuals with FTD. Support groups and counselling can help caregivers manage stress and cope with the challenges of caring for someone with FTD. Additionally, caregivers can work with healthcare professionals to develop a care plan that meets the individual needs of their loved one with FTD.

Takeaway

Frontotemporal dementia is a progressive brain disorder that can impact life expectancy. The average life expectancy for individuals with FTD is around 6-8 years from the onset of symptoms, although this can vary depending on several factors such as the age of onset, type of FTD, and the presence of other medical conditions. While there is currently no cure for FTD, treatments and care strategies can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. Caregivers play a crucial role in providing support for individuals with FTD and should work with healthcare professionals to develop a care plan that meets the individual needs of their loved ones.

Understanding the factors that can influence life expectancy in individuals with FTD is essential for healthcare professionals and caregivers alike. By providing proper care and support, individuals with FTD can live the fullest and most comfortable lives possible.


Tim Williamson, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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