SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The family of actor Bruce Willis announced that he has a less common form of dementia that eventually interferes with a person’s behavior, even the ability to walk and talk.
Willis has been diagnosed with Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD), a disorder that causes progressive nerve cell loss in the brain that causes deterioration in personality and movement as well as the ability to understand language.
Dr. Stephen Bonasera, Chief of Geriatrics and Palliative Care at Baystate Medical Center shared what you can do and the warning signs to look for, “If they think that their loves ones are experiencing problems with thinking, emotion, language, memory… these are problems that they should go to their regular doctor for. Their regular doctor, if they hear something that’s concerning, they can send them for memory evaluations.”
There are no reliable treatments at this time. According to the US National Institute on Aging, people will typically live six to eight years with the condition. Doctors say the Alzheimer’s Association is also a great resource for those looking for more information or for help.
Differences between FTD and Alzheimer’s
- Age is an important part of the diagnosis. Most people with FTD can be diagnosed in their 40s through early 60s. Alzheimer’s grows with increasing age.
- Memory loss is a more prominent symptom in early Alzheimer’s than in FTD. However, an advanced FTD can cause memory loss in addition to the other characteristics on behavior and language.
- Behavior changes are considered early symptoms of FTD where they are progressed later with Alzheimer’s.
- Getting lost in familiar places are more common with Alzheimer’s than FTD.
- Alzheimer’s causes trouble thinking of the right word or remembering names, whereas FTD have more trouble making sense when they speak and understanding the speech of other.
- Hallucinations and delusions are not common in FTD but are more common in Alzheimer’s