Managing frontotemporal dementia 

There is currently no cure for frontotemporal dementia, but treatment can help to manage some of the symptoms.

When you are diagnosed with dementia, your future health and social care needs will need to be assessed and a care plan drawn up.

This is to ensure you receive the right treatment for your needs. It involves identifying areas where you may need some assistance, such as:

  • what support you or your carer need for you to remain as independent as possible
  • whether there are any changes that need to be made to your home to make it easier to live in
  • whether you need any financial assistance

Read more about care plans.

Medication

There is no medication specifically designed to treat frontotemporal dementia. Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors such as donepezil (Aricept), which are normally prescribed for Alzheimer's disease, are not effective.

However, there are medications that can help control some of the symptoms.

Antidepressants

There is evidence to suggest that a type of antidepressant called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may help to control the loss of inhibitions, overeating and compulsive behaviour seen in some people with frontotemporal dementia.

There is also some evidence suggesting that a type of antidepressant called trazodone may help to control behavioural problems.

Antipsychotics

Antipsychotics such as haloperidol are only really used for treating severely challenging behaviour that is putting you or others at risk of harm. 

This is because these medications can cause a range of serious side effects, including rigidity and immobility.

If antipsychotics are needed, they will be prescribed at the lowest possible dose and for the shortest possible time, and your health will be carefully monitored.

Supportive measures and treatments

There are also a number of treatments and techniques that can help make everyday living easier if you have dementia, or are caring for someone who does. These include:

  • occupational therapy to identify problem areas in everyday life, such as getting dressed, and help work out practical solutions
  • speech and language therapy to help improve any communication problems
  • physiotherapy to help with movement difficulties
  • psychological treatments, such as cognitive stimulation, to help improve memory, problem solving skills and language ability
  • relaxation therapies, such as aromatherapy, music or dance therapy, and massage
  • strategies for dealing with challenging behaviour, such as distraction techniques, having a structured daily routine, and encouraging activities to relieve boredom (such as doing puzzles or listening to music)
  • offering food only at mealtimes and in suitable portions to help prevent overeating
  • incontinence products

Read more about living well with dementia.

Legal matters

If you've been diagnosed with dementia, you'll need to make arrangements for your care that take into account the possible decline in your mental abilities. This should include ensuring that your wishes are upheld if you're not able to make decisions for yourself.

You may wish to draw up an advance decision after first receiving a diagnosis of dementia. This makes your treatment preferences known now, in case you are unable to do this in the future.

You may also want to consider giving a relative or someone else “lasting power of attorney”. This is the power to make decisions about you if you are unable to.

It's best to decide on these issues as early in the illness as possible, so that your competence to make decisions is not in question.

Read more about managing legal affairs for someone with dementia.

Advice for carers

If you care for someone with dementia, you may find it helpful to read more about:




Page last reviewed: 28/01/2015

Next review due: 28/01/2017