Objective: To evaluate activities of daily living (ADLs) in three clinical variants of frontotemporal dementia and the relationship to cognitive dysfunction.
Methods: Fifty-nine patients and caregivers participated in this cross-sectional study: behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bv-FTD, n = 15), progressive nonfluent aphasia (PNFA, n = 10), semantic dementia (n = 15), and Alzheimer disease (AD, n = 19). Caregivers were interviewed with the Disability Assessment for Dementia (DAD) to provide two outcome measures about ADLs: basic and instrumental ADLs (BADLs, IADL). In addition, patients were rated on the Clinical Dementia Rating Scale (CDR), and performance on cognitive measures (Addenbrooke's Cognitive Examination Revised [ACE-R]) was assessed.
Results: On the DAD, the bv-FTD group was most affected (56% of normal), whereas PNFA and semantic dementia patients were least impaired (83% and 85%); AD was intermediate (76%). The opposite pattern was seen on the ACE-R, where PNFA and semantic dementia groups were most affected, and bv-FTD showed least impairment; AD was again intermediate. Scores on the DAD did not correlate with cognitive measures, CDR, or disease duration. We further analyzed which aspect of ADLs was most affected, and a unique pattern of deficits emerged for the bv-FTD group (initiation affected > planning > execution for BADLs).
Conclusion: Frontotemporal dementia has a devastating effect on activities of daily living, which is of considerable importance to caregivers and not captured by bedside cognitive tests.