Giving cash to strangers could be an early warning sign of Alzheimer’s.
This is according to a study from USC and Bar-Ilan University in Israel, which linked financial altruism to the early stages of the disease.
The study tested the theory on 67 adults around the age of 70.
Participants were paired up with people they had never met and given $10 (£8) to distribute between themselves and each other.
Participants underwent neurological tests to assess their cognitive status and their potential risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
The findings, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, suggest that those who were at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s were also more likely to give money to the person they had never met.
Dr. Duke Han, a professor of neuropsychology at USC who led the research, said, “It is believed that problems with money management are one of the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease, and this finding supports that belief.”
Changes in humor and increased swearing are signs of Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia (FTD) – a type of dementia that causes behavioral and speech problems. According to experts, poor parking and unkempt clothing are also signs of memory impairment. Graphic shows: Six signs of Alzheimer’s disease
Changes in humor
The beginning, slapstick comedy classics like “Plane” and “Mr. Bean” could be another sign of Alzheimer’s.
Researchers at University College London found that people suffering from the condition were more likely to enjoy watching slapstick, absurd or satirical comedies compared to their peers.
A questionnaire was given to friends and relatives of 48 people with Alzheimer’s and FTD.
They were asked about their loved ones’ preferences for different types of comedy and whether their tastes have changed over the last 15 years.
The researchers asked if she was a fan of slapstick comedies like “Mr. Bean” by Rowan Atkinson, satirical comedies like “South Park” or absurd comedies like “The Mighty Boosh”.
Family and friends were also asked whether they had noticed inappropriate humor in recent years.
According to the 2015 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, people with the disease prefer slapstick jokes nine years before typical dementia symptoms appear.
It was also found that people with FTD were more likely to find tragic events funny or laugh at things others wouldn’t find funny, like a badly parked car or a barking dog.
These changes in humor may be caused by brain shrinkage in the frontal lobe, researchers say.
Fashion disasters, difficulty putting together appropriate clothes, and wearing things that don’t suit the weather could be another sign of Alzheimer’s.
Researchers from the Universities of Kent and York described how people with dementia are less able to dress themselves when left to their own devices.
The study, published in Sociology of Health and Illness in 2018, focused on 32 people in three care homes and 15 mainstream homes in Kent.
Researchers surveyed 28 nursing home staff, 29 carers and relatives to find out how people with dementia should dress.
Melissa, a family caregiver quoted in the study, said, “I’ve never seen my father unkempt.” Never. “Until that day, I arrived home and he was sitting there in tattered clothes, which really hurt me because I’m not used to that – not at all.”
Caregivers also said it was difficult to dress people with advanced dementia as they need encouragement and help guiding their arms.
Untidy clothing and altered clothing can be caused by a variety of Alzheimer’s symptoms, from muscle stiffness and jerky arm movements that make it physically difficult to get dressed to simply forgetting that clothes are part of them.
Bad parking options
The memory-robbing condition can leave Alzheimer’s patients unable to drive.
The condition impairs motor skills, memory and thought processes, causing parking reaction times to become slower and poorer, leading patients to eventually hand over their car keys.
Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis studied the driving habits of 139 people over a year to find out how Alzheimer’s disease changes while driving.
Half of the participants were diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer’s and the other half were not.
The study, published in 2021 in “Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy,” suggests that people with the disease are more likely to drive slowly and make sudden changes in direction.
The team used the results to develop a model that predicted whether people had Alzheimer’s disease based on their driving skills.
The model correctly estimated whether someone had the disease nine times out of ten.
Not having a filter and swearing in inappropriate situations could be another warning sign.
The filter that people normally use to stop themselves from using inappropriate language in front of children, for example, becomes weaker with the disease, causing people with FTD to let more profanity pass.
Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles have found that people with FTD are more likely to use the word “f**k” when asked to name words that begin with “f.”
In the study, published in 2010 in Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology, 70 patients were asked to name as many words as they could think of that began with the letters “f,” “a,” and “s” in one minute.
They also found that six of the 32 dementia patients said the curse word when asked to list words for “f,” and more said the word “s**t” for “s.”
No filter available
Just like with swearing, the brains of Alzheimer’s patients who change no longer have a filter.
How they act and what they say can in many cases degenerate.
Taking off your clothes in public, being rude and talking to strangers are all signs of the disease, experts say.
The frontal prefrontal cortex in the frontal lobes of the brain is the part that controls the filters. But when you get Alzheimer’s, this part of the brain shrinks.
The Alzheimer’s Society said: “These situations can be very confusing, distressing, shocking or frustrating for both someone with dementia and those close to them.”
“The person with dementia may not understand why their behavior is considered inappropriate. It is very unlikely that they are intentionally inappropriate.”