There is currently no cure or specific treatment for frontotemporal dementia. Treatments for Alzheimer's disease have not been shown to be effective in frontotemporal dementia. However, there are treatments, both pharmacological and non-pharmacological, that can help to control symptoms of the disease.
Managing behaviours: The behaviour of patients with frontotemporal dementia can be difficult for caregivers to manage, and at times it can even lead to frustration. Carergivers may feel that the patient is no longer ‘the person they used to know’. However, it is important to understand that these behaviours are caused by the disease, and the patient should not be blamed. Arguing with the patient or scolding them for their behaviour does not work, as the patient cannot control it.
In order to deal with the apathy caused by the disease, it is useful to be proactive with the patient. For example, open questions (such as ‘What do you feel like doing today?’) are often more difficult for the patient to answer than questions with limited options (such as ‘Do you want to go shopping or to the cinema?’). Maintaining routines and adapting environments can also be useful when trying to manage compulsive behaviours. It may be helpful to consult an occupational therapist, who can assess the problems resulting from the disease and how to manage them. Link to: Behavioural Disturbances in People with Dementia | Hospital Clínic Barcelona (clinicbarcelona.org)
Speech therapy: Speech therapy is recommended for patients with speech disorders. Speech therapy aims to strengthen linguistic skills, and to find alternative tools to compensate for impaired abilities. For example, in advanced stages of the disease, when verbal communication may be lost, a speech therapist can help with alternative forms of communication such as mobile applications, drawings, etc.
There is currently no pharmacological treatment capable of restoring, stopping or slowing the neurodegenerative process of frontotemporal dementia. However, there are symptomatic treatments that can help to control symptoms of the disease. These symptomatic treatments consist of antidepressant and antipsychotic treatments:
Antidepressants: Some types of antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may help to reduce the behavioural problems associated with frontotemporal dementia.
Antipsychotics: some antipsychotic medications, such as quetiapine, risperidone and olanzapine, may be useful in controlling the behavioural symptoms of the disease. However, these drugs should be used with caution due to their potential adverse effects.
Researchers continue to explore the biological and genetic causes of frontotemporal dementia with the ultimate goal of modifying the course of the disease, in other words, being able to stop or slow down deterioration of the brain. Most of these drugs aim to prevent the accumulation and propagation of abnormal protein deposits in the neurons.
However, researchers are also working on new biochemical biomarkers (molecules present in the blood or cerebrospinal fluid) or neuroimaging biomarkers (magnetic resonance imaging or PET) to improve diagnosis of the disease and allow for targeted treatment where available.