Dementia: The type of comedy show you like could be a sign – symptoms

Steve Thompson recalls signs of his early-onset dementia

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Dementia can be detected as early as the age of 45. The brain condition isn’t only about memory loss, it can also have an impact on how you speak, think, feel and behave. One area of your behaviour that could also be impacted is your humour, according to the study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

The study suggested that enjoying Mr Bean kind of humour could be a sign of dementia.

Researchers from the University College London found that people with the condition were more likely to enjoy slapstick comedy shows.

Those with dementia liked satirical or absurdist comedy a lot less than healthy adults of the same age.

Looking at 48 people, the study used a semi-structured questionnaire to assess humour behaviour and preferences.

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They considered the subject’s humour sense at the current phase of their disease as well as their previous taste.

Friends and relatives of these participants were also given questionnaires to fill out the information about different kinds of comedy preferences.

The participants in the study were diagnosed with either Alzheimer’s or frontotemporal dementia (FTD).

The Mayo Clinic explains that Alzheimer’s disease describes a condition that causes the brain to shrink and your brain cells to die.

And frontotemporal dementia details “an uncommon” type of dementia that causes problems with behaviour and language, according to the NHS.

The participants were asked about slapstick comedy such as Rowan Atkinson, satirical comedy like South Park or absurdist comedy like The Mighty Boosh.

The family members were also asked if they noticed a shift in their preference over the last 15 years.

The researchers also queried about whether the relatives have shown signs of inappropriate humour recently.

The research then found that people with dementia started to prefer slapstick humour about nine years before the start of other typical dementia symptoms.

People, who suffered from FTD, were also more likely to laugh at tragic events on the news or in their life as well as things others would not find funny.

However, the study comes with some limitations that should help “guide future work”.

For example, the number of participants was quite low and they were assessed using third-person reports while control data were based on self-report – “both potentially subject to recall bias”.

“Humour is heavily influenced by social and cultural context and assessment of humour appreciation will likely require tailoring to these factors,” the study added.

Apart from your humour preferences, the NHS lists the common signs which could point to the brain condition.

Symptoms of dementia may include:

  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Finding it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks (getting confused over the correct change when shopping)
  • Struggling to follow a conversation or find the right word
  • Being confused about time and place
  • Mood changes.

If you suspect you or your loved one suffers from dementia, it’s important to see a GP.

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