top of page
  • Writer's picturePaul B. Plant

Changes in Mom’s Sense of Humor Can Be Early Signs of Dementia

Updated: Jun 30, 2023

Often, with diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia, the first signs and symptoms are subtle and are confused with normal signs of aging. So the diseases go unnoticed for many years. A recent study hopes to shed some light on one of the early signs of Alzheimer’s and dementia, one that sometimes emerges years before any other symptoms: changes in a person’s sense of humor.

The study, done in London, looked at 48 people who were living with Alzheimer’s or dementia and 21 people who were cognitively healthy. Researchers divided humor into three categories: (1) slapstick, (2) absurdist, or (3) satirical. Friends, family members, and caregivers who had known each participant for 15 years or longer were given a questionnaire and asked to evaluate their loved one’s sense of humor.

Through this study, researchers found that the participants who had Alzheimer’s and dementia experienced changes in their senses of humor at an average of nine years before they showed any other symptoms of their disease. These same participants were more likely to laugh at inappropriate jokes and slapstick comedy. They were less likely to find absurdist and satirical humor funny, presumably because those types of humor require more thought process and knowledge of current events.

Loved ones who answered the questionnaires noted that the participants who had dementia did many of the following things:

  1. Rarely laughs at jokes except for their own

  2. Often laughs at inappropriate jokes

  3. Takes many jokes literally, does not understand

  4. Used to be very funny but no longer tells jokes

  5. Only laughs at jokes now when others laugh

  6. Recently developed a dark sense of humor

  7. Finds humor in others being hurt or upset

If your loved one is starting to show any signs of a changed sense of humor, it might be time to discuss your concerns with their doctor. Getting a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia is hard, but the earlier your loved one is diagnosed, the faster they can start treatment and therapy.

Posted by Dawn Owens on Sep 15, 2016 9:00:00 AM, The Cottages Blog – The Cottages Assisted Living


Paul B. Plant, Esq., Harwell & Plant

225 Mahr Ave., Lawrenceburg, TN, 38464

Open: Monday – Thursday 9AM – 5PM | Friday 9AM – 3PM


bottom of page