Progression of dementia
Frontotemporal dementias are neurodegenerative diseases. This means that they have a progressive course. As the disease progresses, the process of neurodegeneration spreads to other parts of the brain. This causes existing symptoms to worsen, and new symptoms to appear. For example, if initially there is behavioural impairment, over the course of the disease disturbances in language and motor function may also occur. In general, we talk about three stages of dementia:
- Firstly, there is a phase of mild dementia where the patient has difficulty performing complex tasks.
- This is followed by a phase of moderate dementia where the patient struggles to perform simple tasks.
- Finally, severe dementia is when the patient is unable to perform simple tasks and loses their ability to walk and talk.
On average, frontotemporal dementia has a life expectancy of about 9 years from the time of diagnosis, but this can vary greatly between patients, and also depends on the initial symptomatology.
In the advanced stages of dementia, patients may develop urinary and respiratory infections as a result of incontinence problems and difficulties with swallowing food.
Chronic complications of frontotemporal dementia are the result of the disease progressing to other parts of the brain. Patients who initially display language problems may develop behavioural problems, and vice versa. However, motor complications in the form of issues with walking, falls, tremors and stiffness are common during the course of the disease.