Critter Corner: Are Swearing, Bad Parking, and Being Overly Generous Signs of Alzheimer’s?

Dear Angel,

I heard recently that swearing, bad parking, and being overly generous, among other things, are all possible signs of Alzheimer’s. This is particularly scary, because my husband and I do all these things sometimes. Is this true and if so, are there reputable studies to back it up?

Thanks for your help,

Jenna Russ-Badparker

Dear Jenna,

Memory loss is a prominent symptom of Alzheimer’s disease, but that’s only one of many signs of the disorder. Other symptoms can also include forgetfulness, irritability, and trouble communicating. Earlier this month, researchers said they’d uncovered another sign of the illness: “imprudent altruism.”

Being Overly Generous

Researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) found that seniors who were more willing to give away money to strangers are at a higher risk of developing the neurodegenerative disease.

“Trouble handling money is thought to be one of the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease, and this finding supports that notion,” said Duke Han, lead study author and professor of neuropsychology.

Compared to younger generations, older people are more likely to be victimized by online phishing scams, which could be a sign of Alzheimer’s in some.

For their study, they took 67 adults close to 70 years old and paired each of them with someone they had never met before; they were then given $10 and asked to split it between themselves. Participants who more easily gave their money away were found to have a weaker brain state, meaning they were more likely to have Alzheimer’s.

Excess Swearing/No Filter

According to a study published in Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology, as a patient’s brain changes, they may slowly lose their ability to evaluate both what they say and how they act, causing them to use profanity more often. That’s because the part of the brain that controls our internal filter, the frontal prefrontal cortex, is known to shrink with age, according to experts.

“These situations can be very confusing, distressing, shocking or frustrating for someone with dementia, as well as for those close to them,” the Alzheimer’s Society has explained. “The person with dementia may not understand why their behavior is considered inappropriate. It’s very unlikely that they are being inappropriate on purpose.”

AgingCare posted a helpful article about dealing with swearing and vulgarity in Alzheimer’s patients.

Bad Parking

Decreased driving skills, especially seen in parking, can be an early sign of Alzheimer’s. A study published in Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy found that those diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s were more likely to drive slower and experience more stark changes in their typical driving habits.

The study was used to create a model based solely on driving habits to predict if someone has Alzheimer’s and is found to accurately diagnose in 90% of cases. On the other hand, some people with big vehicles, or for other reasons, are just not great at parking!

Just because you may do some of these things doesn’t mean you have Alzheimer’s. If you are concerned, be sure to check in with your doctor!

Hope this is helpful!


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About Renee Eder

Renee Eder is the Director of Public Relations for the Farr Law Firm, and gives the voice to the Critters of Critter Corner. Renee’s poodle, Penny, is an official comfort dog who she and her children bring to visit with seniors who are in the early stages of dementia at a local senior home once a month.

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