Here are five more surprising early signs of dementia—be sure to tell your doctor if any of these sound familiar.
Your taste buds change.
Big shifts in the kinds of foods you crave—especially a newfound preference for sweets—is another early warning sign, finds a Japanese study. The researchers say disease-related changes to the parts of your brain that control your taste buds and appetite may explain their findings. Some of the dementia sufferers in their study were even known to eat expired or rotten food.
You’ve started claiming “five-finger discounts.”
New criminal behaviors—stealing, trespassing, driving violations—may be an early sign of dementia, especially a front-brain variation of the disease called frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Research published in JAMA Neurology found breaking bad was the first sign of dementia in 14% of those suffering from FTD. The disease attacks the part of your brain that helps you recognize and respect social rules and conventions, which may explain the criminal behaviors, the authors say.
Sarcasm is lost on you.
Can’t tell when someone’s pulling your leg? An inability to detect lies, sarcasm, and other forms of “insincere speech” is another early symptom, suggests research from the University of California, San Francisco. The study authors say the disease messes with parts of your brain that spot and interpret “higher-order” verbal information.
You’re slowing down—physically.
A decrease in walking speed can precede any cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer’s. New research suggests beta-amyloid buildup in the brain may be to blame. Those pieces of protein form the hallmark plaques thought to spur Alzheimer’s-related damage in the brain. In the latest study, published in Neurology, researchers tested the walking speed and scanned the brains of 128 people with an average age of 76 and found a link between beta-amyloid buildup and a slower gait. In fact, they estimate that beta-amyloid accounts for as much as 9% of the difference in people’s walking speed.
You’ve become a pack rat.
Hoarding and other compulsive, “ritualistic” behaviors have been linked to dementia, shows research from the University of California, Los Angeles. For example, buying a newspaper every day and saving it but never reading it is one example of the sort of new, compulsive behavior that may signal the onset of dementia.