It is a cruel disease that ruins the lives of millions of people around the world.
However, charities say not enough is being done to teach the public about the early warning signs of dementia.
After Hollywood actor Bruce Willis was diagnosed with the incurable disease earlier this year, MailOnline is sharing some of the strangest early symptoms that can occur.
What is frontotemporal dementia?
The Die Hard star, 68, has frontotemporal dementia (FTD), which can affect behavior and language.
It is one of the least common forms of dementia, accounting for only 2 percent of diagnoses. Alzheimer’s is the most widespread type of dementia: it represents three out of every four cases.
FTD tends to appear earlier than other forms, such as Alzheimer’s.
Bruce Willis received a second devastating diagnosis less than a year after it was revealed he had an untreatable brain disorder (pictured in 2019 at the 2021 European premiere of Glass)
Mood swings and swearing are signs of Alzheimer’s and frontotemporal dementia (FTD), a type of dementia that causes behavioral and language problems. According to experts, bad parking and sloppy dressing are also signs of this memory-robbing disease. Graphic shows: Six signs of Alzheimer’s disease
Giving cash to strangers could be an early warning sign of Alzheimer’s.
This is indicated by research from USC and Bar-Ilan University in Israel, which links financial altruism to the early stages of the disease.
The study tested the theory in 67 adults around 70 years old.
Participants were placed in pairs with people they had never met and were given $10 (£8) to distribute between themselves and each other.
The participants underwent neurological tests to judge their cognitive status and their potential risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
The results, published in he Alzheimer’s Disease Journalsuggested that those who had a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s were also more willing to give money to the person they had never met.
Dr. Duke Han, a USC neuropsychology professor who led the research, said, “Problems managing money are thought to be one of the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease, and this finding supports that idea.”
What is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative brain disease in which the accumulation of abnormal proteins causes the death of nerve cells.
This disrupts the transmitters that carry messages and causes the brain to shrink.
More than 5 million people suffer from the disease in the United States, where it is the sixth leading cause of death, and more than 1 million Britons suffer from it.
As brain cells die, the functions they perform are lost.
That includes memory, orientation, and the ability to think and reason.
The progress of the disease is slow and gradual.
On average, patients live five to seven years after diagnosis, but some can live ten to 15 years.
- Short-term memory loss.
- Behavior changes
- Humor changes
- Difficulty handling money or making a phone call.
- Severe memory loss, forgetting close relatives, familiar objects or places.
- Feeling anxious and frustrated about the inability to make sense of the world, leading to aggressive behavior.
- Over time he loses the ability to walk.
- You may have problems eating
- Most will eventually need 24-hour care
Fountain: Alzheimer’s Association
Starting to watch slapstick comedy classics like Airplane and Mr Bean could be another sign of Alzheimer’s.
Researchers at University College London found that people with the disease were more likely to enjoy watching comedic, absurd or satirical comedies compared to other people of the same age.
A questionnaire was given to friends and family 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 had changed in the last 15 years.
The researchers asked if they were fans of slapstick comedies like Rowan Atkinson’s Mr Bean, satirical comedies like South Park or absurdist comedies like The Mighty Boosh.
Family and friends were also asked if they had noticed any inappropriate humor in recent years.
According to the study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in 2015, people with this disease begin to prefer comical jokes nine years before the typical symptoms of dementia begin to appear.
It also found that people with FTD were more likely to find tragic events funny or to laugh at things that others would not find funny, such as a poorly parked car or a barking dog.
These changes in mood could be caused by the reduction in the size of the brain’s frontal lobe, the researchers say.
Making fashion disasters, struggling to put together clothes that match, and wearing things that aren’t appropriate for the weather could be other signs of Alzheimer’s.
Researchers from the universities of Kent and York described how people with dementia were less likely to dress themselves when left to their own devices.
The study, published in Sociology of health and illness In 2018, it targeted 32 people in three care homes and 15 regular homes in Kent.
Researchers interviewed 28 nursing home employees, 29 family caregivers and relatives to find out how people with dementia should be dressed.
Melissa, a family caregiver quoted in the study, said: “I have never seen my father disheveled. Ever. Until that day I came home and found him sitting there with his clothes wrinkled, which hurt me a lot because I’m not used to that, not at all.’
Caregivers also said it was difficult to dress people with more advanced dementia because they needed encouragement and help guiding their arms.
Slovenliness and changes in clothing can be caused by several symptoms of Alzheimer’s, from muscle stiffness and jerky arm movements that make it physically more difficult to get dressed to simply forgetting that your clothes belong to you.
Bruce Willis’ family said the star’s condition had “progressed”. FTD affects the lobes of the brain behind the forehead, which deal with behavior, problem solving, planning and emotions (pictured with LR’s wife Emma Heming, his ex-wife Demi Moore and their daughters Scout, Tallulah, Mabel, Evelyn and Rumer)
This memory-robbing condition can cause Alzheimer’s patients to have poor driving.
The condition affects motor skills, memory and thought processes, making their reaction times slow and poor when parking, leading patients to eventually hand over their car keys.
Researchers at Washington University in St Louis studied the driving habits of 139 people for a year to see how Alzheimer’s changes the way they drove.
Half of the participants were diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s, while the other half were not.
The study, published in Alzheimer’s research and therapy in 2021, suggested that people with the disease were more likely to drive slowly and make sudden changes in direction.
The team used the findings to build a model that predicted whether people had Alzheimer’s based on their driving skills.
The model correctly guessed whether someone had the disease in nine out of 10 cases.
Having no filter and using bad words in inappropriate situations could be another warning sign.
The filter that people typically use to avoid using inappropriate language in front of children, for example, is weakened by the disease, causing people with FTD to blurt out more profanity.
People with FTD are more likely to use the word ‘f**k’ when asked to name words that start with ‘f,’ researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, found.
The study, published in Cognitive and behavioral neurology In 2010, he asked 70 patients to name as many words as they could think of that started with the letters ‘f’, ‘a’ and ‘s’ in one minute.
They also found that six of the 32 dementia patients said swear words when asked to list words for ‘f’, and more said the word ‘shit’ instead of ‘s’.
Like swear words, as Alzheimer’s patients’ brains change, they become unfiltered.
Their way of acting and what they say can degenerate in many cases.
According to experts, undressing in public, being rude and talking to strangers are signs of the disease.
The frontal prefrontal cortex in the frontal lobes of the brain is the part that controls the filter. But when Alzheimer’s develops, this part of the brain shrinks.
The Alzheimer’s Society said: “These situations can be very confusing, distressing, shocking or frustrating for someone with dementia, as well as their loved ones.”
‘The person with dementia may not understand why their behavior is considered inappropriate. “It is highly unlikely that they are being inappropriate on purpose.”