You may have never heard of it, but frontotemporal degeneration (FTD) represents an estimated 10 to 20 percent of all dementia cases and a condition from which 60,000 Americans now suffer.
Also referred to as frontotemporal lobar degeneration or Picks disease, FTD causes the brain to shrink and atrophy, resulting in changes in behavior and personality, language, and motor skills, and a deterioration in a person’s ability to function. Approximately 60 percent of these cases occur in people between the ages of 45 and 64, but has been seen as early as 21 and as late as 80, impacting work and family in a way dementia in older patients does not.
As FTD progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult for people to plan or organize activities, behave appropriately in social or employment settings, interact with others, and care for oneself, resulting in greater dependence on caregivers. The person becomes impulsive or emotionally indifferent, and they decline physically to the point where they experience constant tremors, body rigidity, and decreased mobility, eventually losing the ability to talk, walk, eat and swallow. The disease cannot currently be cured, and at present, there is no effective way to slow its progression.
On June 17th, the attorneys and staff at Zausmer went “Casual for a Cause,” collecting funds for the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration and its research, education, support, and advocacy efforts. The AFTD organization is especially important to Zausmer legal assistant Kathy Collings, who led the fundraising campaign and matched nearly all of the donations made by the firm in memory of her mother who passed away one year ago. As Kathy shares:
My mother started having symptoms of this disease in the late 1980s, but at that time, we had no idea about what was wrong with her. Thinking it was stress and life changes, my dad took her to a doctor who initially diagnosed Alzheimer’s, but as her symptoms progressed and she experienced so many different changes to her mind and body, she was correctly diagnosed with Pick’s disease. Caring for someone with FTD is so hard, challenging, and stressful because of the extreme personality changes and behavioral problems that often develop. As the disease progresses and the person requires 24-hour supervision, caregivers need assistance from family members, friends, support groups, and respite care provided by adult care centers and home health care agencies.
We are proud to support AFTD, Kathy, and her family, and encourage you to learn more about FTD and ways you can help.