Reminiscence loss is a symptom of Alzheimer’s illness, but that’s only one of the many signs of the disorder.
Earlier this month, researchers said they had uncovered other signs of the illness: imprudent altruism. They suggested that there are many changes that indicate early signs of Alzheimer’s disease before forgetfulness sets in, from favouring slapstick comedy to wearing shabby clothes. The brand new research also suggested that aged individuals who are extra keen to give away cash to strangers are also in danger of developing the neurodegenerative illness.
The disease affects 850,000 people in the UK and around 5.8 million in the US, but reports suggest that the rates will soar across the globe in the coming decade as the global population ages.
A recent study talks about the indicators of the mysterious disease.
1. Giving away cash
Elderly people are known to be more at risk of scams. But the latest research also shows handing out money may potentially be an early sign of Alzheimer’s.
Research from USC and Bar-Ian found that financial altruism was significantly associated with being in the early stages of the disease. A study was conducted on 67 older adults aged around 70. Each of them was matched with another person they had never met in a lab setting and handed $10 to split between themselves.
Researchers shared that those willing to give away more money to a stranger tended to be in a worse cognitive state and tested higher for Alzheimer’s risk. The results published in the Alzheimer’s Journal suggested that the disease’s effects on the brain may have a knock-on effect that makes people more vulnerable.
“Trouble handling money is thought to be one of the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease, and this finding supports that notion,” said Duke Han, lead study author and a professor of neuropsychology, in a statement.
2. An altered sense of humour
Being a fan of Mr Bean could be another sign of Alzheimer’s, according to the research. Research by the University College London found that people who suffered from the disease were more likely to enjoy slapstick comedy over satirical or absurdist comedy.
A study conducted on 48 friends and relatives of patients with Alzheimer’s disease stated that their loved ones started preferring slapstick comedy as the neurodegenerative disease set in.
They were asked if people enjoyed slapstick comedy like Rowan Atikson, satirical comedy like South Park, or Absurdist comedy like The Mighty Boosh. They were also asked whether their preferences have changed in the last 15 years.
The Alzheimer’s Journal in 2015 found that people with Alzheimer’s disease preferred slapstick comedy about nine years before the onset of typical dementia symptoms. Researchers also stated that more studies needed to determine the exact cause of the change in sense of humour, but most of the behavioural changes after developing Alzheimer’s disease are caused by shrinking of the brain’s frontal lobe.
3. Losing their filter
As with swearing, Alzheimer’s patients’ ability to filter what they say and how they act tends to degenerate in many cases as their brains change. People may become rude, say inappropriate things, undress in public, or start talking to strangers.
The change is caused by shrinkage of the brain in the frontal lobe’s prefrontal cortex, the part that filters what we say and do. Alzheimer’s Society said, “these situations can be very confusing, distressing, shocking or frustrating for someone with dementia, as well as for their loved ones.”
4. Dirtily dressed
People suffering from Alzheimer’s may also face trouble choosing clothes that fit them well. Researchers from the University of Kent and York described how people with dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease were less able to dress properly.
Melissa, a caregiver, was interviewed and described her devastation after her father began changing how he dressed when he developed Alzheimer’s disease. She said, “I’ve never seen my father dirty. Never. Until that day I came into the house and he’s sitting there in messed up clothes that really hurt me because I’m not used to that not at all.”
Caregivers also described difficulties in dressing up, guiding, and encouraging people with more advanced dementia. Studies disclose that changing in dressing sense can be caused by a variety of effects of Alzheimer’s disease, from forgetting the clothes that go with a certain look, to muscle stiffness and sudden jerks that make them more difficult to put on.