Memory loss is a major symptom of Alzheimer’s disease, but it’s only one of many signs of the disease.
The disease, which affects 5.8 million people in the United States, often presents as forgetfulness, irritability, and difficulty communicating.
Earlier this month, researchers said they discovered another sign of the disease: reckless altruism.
The new findings suggest that older people who are more willing to give money to strangers are at greater risk of developing the neurodegenerative disease.
“Difficulty managing money is considered one of the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s disease, and this finding supports that notion,” Duke Han, the study’s lead author and a professor of neuropsychology, said in a statement.
The study is the latest to shed light on the mysterious disease. Read on to learn more about the hard-to-distinguish symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease:
Compared to younger generations, older people are more likely to fall victim to online phishing scams, which could be a sign of Alzheimer’s disease in some.
Researchers from the University of Southern California and Bar-Ilan University in Israel have found a link between handing over cash and early signs of the disease.
For their study, they took 67 adults in their 70s and paired each of them up with someone they had never met before; they were then given $10 and asked to divide it among themselves.
The participants who gave their money more easily had lower brain status, which means they were more likely to get Alzheimer’s disease.
The results were published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
A moody sense of humor
If you’re a recent fan of slapstick comedy, you could also be at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
University College London conducted a study in which they asked 48 friends and relatives of people with Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia about the type of comedy their loved ones preferred, with the options being slapstick comedy, satirical comedy, or absurd comedy.
They were also asked if their preference for comedy had changed in the last 15 years.
The findings, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, revealed that the preference for slapstick comedy began nine years before the more common symptoms of dementia.
Meanwhile, another recent study found that people with early dementia often don’t find other people’s jokes funny, while other research found that people with dementia are slow to pick up on sarcasm.
They lose their filter
As a patient’s brain changes, they may slowly lose their ability to assess both what they say and how they act. That’s because the part of the brain that controls our internal filter, the frontal prefrontal cortex, is known to shrink with age, experts say.
“These situations can be very confusing, frightening, shocking or frustrating for a person with dementia, as well as those close to them,” explained the Alzheimer’s Society. “The person with dementia may not understand why her behavior is considered inappropriate. It is highly unlikely that they are deliberately inappropriate.
Some of these situations include patients who are accidentally rude or discourteous and, in some unfortunate cases, touching others inappropriately.
Cursing can also be a marker, as the illness weakens your inhibitions.
A study published in Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology asked 70 patients to name as many words as possible beginning with the letters “f”, “a” and “s” in less than a minute.
Despite the lack of raw data, 32 dementia patients said the expletive “f–k” when asked for a list of words beginning with that letter.
a new wardrobe
Illness can make it difficult to get dressed in the morning.
When left unattended, people with Alzheimer’s disease may choose clothing that doesn’t look good together and isn’t appropriate for weather conditions.
Research published in the Sociology of Health and Illness studied 38 people in nursing homes. One study participant, Melissa, spoke about her father’s change in dressing habits after he developed Alzheimer’s disease.
“I never saw my dad disheveled. Never. Until that day, I came home and he was sitting there with his clothes in a mess, which hurt me a lot because I’m not used to it, not at all,” he said.
Declining driving skills, especially parking, can be an early sign.
A study published in Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy found that people diagnosed early with Alzheimer’s disease were more likely to drive more slowly and experience greater changes in their usual driving habits.
The study was successful enough to create a model based solely on driving habits to predict whether people had Alzheimer’s disease and accurately diagnose it in 90% of cases.