‘Die Hard’ star Bruce Willis – whose family had last year announced that he would step away from acting after being diagnosed with aphasia – now has a more specific diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia (FTD). The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration describes FTD as a group of brain disorders caused by degeneration of the frontal and/or temporal lobes of the brain that affects behavior, language, and movement. Let’s find out more about FTD, dementia as a whole, as well as about the declining mental health of the elderly in our society, and ways to boost them.
What is Frontotemporal Dementia? Causes and Symptoms
According to the Alzheimer’s Society, UK, Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is one of the less common types of dementia. “FTD is one of the categories of dementia that affect the frontal, temporal, and/or both the lobes of the brain. In this type of dementia, brain degeneration strikes a bit earlier than the other forms which may affect a bit later in the 60s. Depending upon the part of the brain being affected, it symptomizes into the cognitive and behavioral changes in the patient,” says Dr Vipul Gupta, Director, Neurointervention, Artemis, Agrim Institute for Neuro Sciences, Artemis Hospital.
So who gets FTD? The Alzheimer’s Society, UK, website mentions, “While researchers know a lot about how FTD develops in the brain, they still don’t fully understand why some people get FTD and others don’t. This is mainly because FTD is a less common type of dementia – so it is harder to study its causes.”
Bruce Willis’ Diagnosis
Check out Bruce Willis’ ex-wife, actress Demi Moore’s post below:
Dementia: Different Forms and Causes
While there are different forms of dementia – Alzheimer’s disease, FTD, Vascular Dementia, and Mixed Dementia, among others – it is a progressive disease. Dr Vipul Gupta shares, “Dementia is caused by the degeneration of brain cells and can be present initially with depressive symptoms or can coexist. Aging is an important factor for the onset of dementia.”
According to the doctor, dementia symptoms can sometimes be similar to depression, which has overlapping symptoms which include memory problems, lethargic movement, and speech, low motivation – which might initially make it difficult to understand the difference. “But whatever the case may be, seeking immediate medical attention is a must. If you were depressed, memory, concentration, and energy will be restored with the course of treatment,” says Dr Gupta.
Taking Care of Mental Health
While dementia is a progressive disease, Dr Gupta suggests some broad steps to take care of declining mental health. The key, he says, is to keep oneself engaged. “Loneliness is a major cause for declining mental health among the elderly, and hence it is important to be connected and keep yourself engaged – physically, mentally, and socially. Making an effort to connect with others and limiting the lonely time makes you feel better. If you find it hard to go out and socialize, try inviting your loved ones to your place. Speaking over the phone and contacting through emails and chats were helpful to some extent. But face-to-face interaction still has an upper hand in refreshing your mood better than in digital communication. But nowadays, video calling is also of some help. You can be socially interactive by following the under-mentioned ideas as it is never too late to build new friendships,” says Dr Gupta.
1. Remain Engaged
Dr Vipul Gupta lists some steps to keep oneself engaged:
Take care of a pet – Pets are your best pals, they never keep you lonely. Also taking your pet for a walk is good exercise and a way to interact with new people.
Learn a new skill – Never let your imagination die, pick something that always occupied your mind and you always wanted to try.
Create opportunities to laugh: Humor and laughter always boosts your mood, exchange jokes and funny stories with your loved ones.
2. Maintain Health and hygiene
When depressed, it is difficult to fell motivated to do anything. Let alone take health habits. The better you take care of your body the better it takes care of you.
Body movement: Physical activity is the best mental exercise. Take up light household work or walk to the nearby store, enjoy the movements.
Balanced diet: Consuming a lot of sugary and starch can later crash your glucose level. Eating habits according to your mood does boost your mood.
Yoga and meditation: The best way to keep your mind working and concentrating is to meditate.
Sound Sleep: Sleeping for a solid 8-10 hours at night is essential for mental health.
Dr Vipul Gupta adds, “Apart from lifestyle changes or suggested antidepressants, medication under medical supervision by a neurologist is most often needed to prevent worsening of the condition or for decreasing the suffering and importantly to prevent suicides.”