Help for caregivers of dementia patients
Senior Connections, the Area Agency on Aging for the Richmond metro area, works with the Association of Frontotemporal Degeneration (AFTD) to provide a support group for those providing care for loved ones suffering from FTD. The caregiver support group meets the third Thursday of every month at Covenant Woods Retirement Community at 3 p.m.
FTD — also commonly referred to as frontotemporal dementia, frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), or Picks disease — is a disease process that causes changes in behavior and personality, language and/or motor skills, and a deterioration in a person’s ability to function.
FTC is characterized by the progressive atrophy of several different areas of the brain, particularly the frontal and/or temporal lobes — the parts of the brain that control “executive functions,” including decision-making, personality, social behavior and language.
Different from other dementias
FTD is distinct from other forms of dementia in two important ways:
- Onset of FTD often occurs in a person’s 50s or 60s; the average age of diagnosis is about 57, which is a full 13 years before the average Alzheimer patient is diagnosed. Thus, FTD can affect work and family in a way dementia in older patients does not.
- The hallmark of FTD is a gradual, progressive decline in behavior and/or language (with memory usually relatively preserved).
As the disease progresses, these deficits cause significant impairment in social and/or occupational functioning, and result in an increasing dependency on caregivers.
FTD affects an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 Americans, representing an estimated 10 to 20 percent of all dementia cases. Currently, there are no treatments to slow or stop the progression of FTD.
FTD can be a very isolating disease — for both the patient and their caregiver — unless you take active steps to develop a network of social, emotional and practical supports.
No one — not even the most capable, loving and determined person — can manage everything alone. Connecting with others who understand FTD can be a lifeline.
Please contact Angie Phelon at (804) 343-3045 if you have questions about the caregiver support group. To learn more about FTD and available resources, contact AFTD toll-free at 1-866-507-7222, or visit www.theaftd.org.