Accounting for one of the top four most common types of brain diseases, frontotemporal dementia has a 50 percent chance of affecting you if you have a parent who had the condition. The Alzheimer’s Society highlighted three genetic mutations that cause this type of dementia. Two of the mutations affect the proteins tau (MAPT) and progranulin (GRN); the other mutated gene is C9ORF72.
Otherwise known as Pick’s disease, this type of dementia occurs when the frontal and temporal lobes in the brain are damaged.
These areas of the brain control behaviour, emotional responses and language.
Changes in personality are expected, with the devastating disease more likely affecting people under the age of 65.
Abnormal clumps of protein, specifically Tau, build up in nerve cells within the brain, clumping together.
After a while, these clumps of Tau cause the nerve cells within the brain to die.
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As the disease progresses, those with Pick’s disease can lose their inhibitions.
Socially inappropriate behaviour may ensue, such as making sexual gestures in public.
In addition, the person may lose the ability to understand what others might be thinking or feeling.
This may appear as being inconsiderate of the needs of others, losing interest in social activities, or being less friendly.
Repetitive and obsessive behaviours might become commonplace, such as repeating phrases or gestures.
Pick’s disease can cause someone to no longer be aware when to stop eating, drinking alcohol or smoking.
“Most people with behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia are not fully aware of their symptoms,” said the Alzheimer’s Society.
“Instead, these changes are often first noticed by the people who are close to them.”
If you’d like to access support regarding a loved one with this disease, please call Alzheimer’s Society support line on 0333 150 3456.
As Pick’s disease progresses into the later stages, a person may develop delusions or hallucinations.
Eventually, the person will be unable to recognise family and friends, which can be heartbreaking for all involved.
At present, there is no cure for Pick’s disease and the progression of the disease can’t be slowed down.