Saturday 24 September 2016

Warped sense of humour is an early sign of dementia reveals study

Published 10/11/2015 | 15:21

The Alzheimer Society of Ireland (ASI) said that the average annual cost per person with dementia is estimated at €40,500
The Alzheimer Society of Ireland (ASI) said that the average annual cost per person with dementia is estimated at €40,500

Developing a warped sense of humour in middle age could signify the early signs of dementia according to new research.

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Scientists have suggested that the families who have a relative with dementia noted that in hindsight, their loved one’s sense of humour altered in the years before their diagnosis.

Many people noted that their family members began to laugh at tragic events in the media or in their everyday lives. For example, one subject who was later diagnosed with dementia, once laughed when his wife was scalded.

Researchers in the University College London studied 48 families who had a relative with frontotemporal dementia and revealed that changes in humour could be a warning sign of this form of dementia.

Frontotemporal dementia is a rarer form of the disease and is most common in those under the age of 65. This part of the brain controls humour, personality and behaviour.

Dr Camilla Clark, who lead the research, asked people to rate their loved one’s humour over the last 15 years and to document how their humour changed in the lead up to their dementia diagnosis.

Dr Clark said: "As sense of humour defines us and is used to build relationships with those around us, changes in what we find funny has impacts far beyond picking a new favourite TV show.

"We’ve highlighted the need to shift the emphasis from dementia being solely about memory loss.

"These findings have implications for diagnosis – not only should personality and behaviour changes ring alarm bells, but clinicians themselves need to be more aware of these symptoms as an early sign of dementia."

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