Have you noticed a change in a loved one’s sense of humour recently? Do they prefer to watch Mr Bean over more satirical comedy shows like Yes Minister these days? This could be an early warning sign of developing a dementia such as Alzheimer’s, experts warn.
These personality changes can be quite subtle, such as loss of inhibition and confusion when making decisions, but can become more pronounced as the disease develops. People with dementia have been found to struggle with humour in more complicated and sophisticated comedy shows that required more complex thought, preferring more ‘slapstick’ and obvious comedy plots that are easier to process.
Humour As An Indicator of Dementia In Under 55’s
Researchers have found that these changes in humour can even occur up to ten years before diagnosis, thus giving an early indication of the disease and enabling prompt intervention to take place.
Many of the people studied were found to have frontotemporal dementia – most common in those aged under 55 and also Alzheimer’s which often begins with changes in behaviour and personality.
However, the humour can often take a more shocking turn: relatives of those affected stated that, as time went on, the laughter would be brought about by often inappropriate events such as children hurting themselves or watching a natural disaster unfold on the TV.
Dr Camilla Clark of University College London states that these changes are often ‘well beyond the realms of even distasteful humour…one man laughed when his wife badly scalded herself.’ This can be seen as an emotional separation of the brain manifesting itself in a cruel and seemingly heartless attitude to others’ misfortunes.
Alzheimer’s Research UK state that these findings help show a ‘full picture of the changes that people experience in the early stages of dementia…guiding both improved and earlier diagnosis and the delivery of care’.
One way to bring a smile to anyone with a dementia is with ‘A Funny Old World’, a special book with amusing images and short, large print texts, specially designed to promote conversation and reminiscence in older people. High quality images in both colour and black and white, this is a book that will be enjoyed again and again. Order from our website.
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