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The Impact of Frontotemporal Dementia on You and Your Loved Ones

Feb 23, 2023

The family of Bruce Willis recently revealed that the actor has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, or FTD. While you’ve likely heard of dementia and associate the health condition with aging adults, FTD is much less common than Alzheimer’s disease and often affects people who are younger.

“The majority of FTD happens earlier in life, about 65 years old or younger,” says Christine Cliatt Brown, MD, a board-certified behavioral neurologist and assistant professor in the Division of Cognitive Neurology at University of Utah Health. “About 15 to 22 out of 100,000 people develop FTD.”

Like Alzheimer’s disease, FTD is a type of dementia, or a neurogenerative disease of the brain. It commonly impacts behavior, speech, language, decision making, and memory, interfering with daily life and function. While both FTD and Alzheimer’s disease are progressive degenerative diseases where symptoms get worse over time, they are caused by different proteins in the brain that accumulate and lead to damage of the brain cells. FTD causes nerve cell damage in the frontal and/or temporal lobes of the brain, which leads to loss of function in these regions.