Alzheimer’s disease impacts over 35 million people worldwide. This makes it one of the most common forms of dementia and is estimated to be the fifth leading cause of death. Given the seriousness of the disease, November has been designated Alzheimer’s Awareness month in an effort to shed light on the deeper aspects of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Research carried out by the University College London, which was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s disease, questioned relatives of about 48 dementia patients. These people had known the patients for over 15 years before they were affected by the disease. Many of those questioned told researchers that a patient’s sense of humour changes.
According to the study, it was noticed that the patients laughed at strange and inappropriate moments like a car parked inappropriately and seeing news reports about natural disasters.
Dementia patients were also observed finding comedy serious and sardonic or absurdist comedy more funny. After the patients were diagnosed, a shift was noticed in the patients’ comedy preferences toward the silly and ridiculous. The study also found that as compared to healthy individuals, all patient groups preferred satirical and absurdist comedy.
Dementia has different forms and the study stated that a changed sense of humour is widespread in two dementia types; semantic dementia and a variety of frontotemporal dementia, which causes sufferers to get rid of shyness and fight back in social situations. The change in humour may not be limited to only these forms of dementia as it was also noticed in people suffering with Alzheimer’s disease.
A relative stated that a patient was seen laughing when someone was fighting for breath due to an asthma attack. Others stated that a sane sense of humour took a back seat or probably disappeared while normal people laughed only at the comedy or dirty jokes.
Another family member stated that a particular patient did not find funny things funny and gave out a silly laugh when it was totally inappropriate or not needed. Calling humour very rude and graphic, a relative said that at times everything seems funny to a sufferer.
According to Dr Simon Ridley from Alzheimer’s Research UK, friends and family of dementia or Alzheimer’s sufferers should get in touch with a doctor regarding behavior changes.
Dr Ridley was quoted as saying that memory loss is a common symptom of dementia but it is important to look at the innumerable unusual symptoms that affect daily life and relationships.
It is vital to comprehend the full range of dementia symptoms as it increases doctors’ ability to make a suitable and precise analysis.