Change in sense of humour can be “a sign of impending dementia”

Dementia disease and a loss of brain function and memories Royalty Free Stock Image

A study carried out by University College London involving 48 patients with frontotemporal dementia found that friends and family of the patients had noticed a change in humour up to 9 years before the dementia had been diagnosed.

Many of the patients had developed a dark sense of humour, for example laughing at tragic events in the news or in their own lives – one man laughed when his wife badly scalded herself.  The patients also preferred slapstick humour such as Mr Bean over satirical humor such as Yes, Minister when compared to 21 healthy people of a similar age.

Frontotemporal dementia is a rarer form of the disease and affects personality and behaviour.  People who develop this type of dementia often lose their inhibitions, struggle with social situations and become impulsive.  A deeper understanding of the range of dementia symptoms will help experts make more accurate and timely diagnoses.

Experts say that more studies are needed to understand how and when changes in humour could be a warning sign of dementia.

The research was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease

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