Frontal lobe dementia is also known as Pick’s disease and is named after Arnold Pick, the neurologist and psychiatrist who first documented the disease in 1892. Like other forms of dementia, it is a progressive disease characterized by a gradual atrophy of the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. Frontal lobe dementia life expectancy will vary between different patients, but on average it is around eight years after diagnosis.
Unlike Alzheimer’s disease, frontal lobe dementia generally affects younger people, both men and women, and it is usually seen in patients between the ages of 40 and 65, although it can affect people of any age. Once a patient has been diagnosed with Pick’s disease, it causes an irreversible decline in a patient’s mental faculties over a number of years. The frontal lobe dementia life expectancy can be as long as seventeen years, but some patients only live two years as they soon succumb to complications of the disease.
Frontal lobe dementia is distinguished from other types of dementia by the presence of abnormalities in the nerve cells of the brain—known as Pick bodies. There are several different types of damaged nerve cells found in the brain of a patient with frontal lobe dementia and two of these contain abnormal levels of tau proteins. Pick’s disease is known to be hereditary and it is a mutation in the tau gene that is responsible for increasing the risk of developing frontal lobe dementia.
Symptoms of frontal lobe dementia vary according to which part of the brain is affected—the frontal lobe or the temporal lobe, although it is more customary for it to affect the frontal lobe.
When the frontal lobe is affected first, behavioral changes are the first noticeable symptoms of Pick’s disease. These can include personality changes and an alteration in social behavior. Patients suffering the early stages of frontal lobe dementia might be erratic and hyperactive or withdrawn and unresponsive and symptoms of obsessive behavior are very common. If the temporal lobe is affected first, language skills tend to degenerate quickly and some patients experience total speech loss. Memory is also more likely to deteriorate.
Other symptoms of frontal lobe dementia include sleep problems, glazed facial expressions, loss of muscle control, repetitive speech and behavior, inability to organize and plan, apathy, negativity, and rigidity.
What is the frontal lobe dementia life expectancy?
There is no treatment for Pick’s disease, although research into potential cures is continually ongoing. Once a firm diagnosis has been made with the aid of clinical assessments, neuro-psychology assessments, linguistic tests, CT and MRI scans, the outlook is generally not good. Current drug treatments involve the use of serotonin based supplements, tranquilizers, and anti-depressants to help control some of the behavioral problems associated with frontal lobe dementia. Other treatments include behavioral therapy.
As the brain slowly atrophies under the relentless onslaught of the disease, the patient’s symptoms will progressively worsen. Death normally occurs from other health complications after an average of eight years, although some people do last longer.