Jack Nicholson rumors put focus on tell-tale signs of dementia

By Jules Murtha | Fact-checked by MDLinx staff
Published January 31, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • Jack Nicholson is reportedly showing signs that he has dementia.

  • Signs of dementia can include problems with memory, attention, communication, reasoning, problem-solving, eyesight, and completing tasks.

  • Discussion of Nicholson’s possible ailment could spark conversations with patients on the potential indicators of dementia.

“His mind is gone.”

That is what friends of critically acclaimed actor Jack Nicholson, 85, reportedly told Radar in January 2023, noting that the iconic film star hasn’t been seen outside of his Mulholland Drive mansion in over a year.[]

Nicholson’s social withdrawal, as well as his decision to stop acting, has led his close friends to believe that he may be suffering from dementia.

As the public speculates, doctors can take this opportunity to inform patients of a few of the most common warning signs of this disorder.

Nicholson rumors

Nicholson’s friends are concerned about his cognitive health for a few reasons.

For one, he hardly leaves his house, which limits his social interactions.

“Jack's in touch with certain relatives—especially (his son) Ray, his protégé, who he's so proud of—but his socializing days are long gone,” a source told Radar.

On top of that, Nicholson has “stepped away” from any sort of acting projects as a result of memory loss.

"It's like he doesn't want to face reality anymore. And that's just sad."

Anonymous source on Jack Nicholson to Radar

Signs of dementia

Although Nicholson has not confirmed whether he’s living with any type of dementia, the social withdrawal and memory loss issues that his friends speak of do fall in line with the most common symptoms of the neurodegenerative disease.

According to the CDC, other tell-tale signs of dementia include:[]

  • Problems with attention and communication

  • Difficulty in judgment, reasoning, and problem-solving

  • Diminished visual perception beyond typical age-related changes

  • Referring to familiar objects with unusual words

  • Forgetting the names of family members or friends

  • Inability to complete tasks independently

  • Getting lost in familiar places and forgetting old memories

The CDC suggested that people exhibiting these signs should see a clinician promptly for medical assessment.

Risk factors

In addition to exhibiting symptoms that warrant concern from his community on Mulholland Drive, Nicholson may also be at an increased risk of developing dementia for another reason.

According to an article published by the Cleveland Clinic, the strongest risk factor for dementia is age: Those most commonly affected by it tend to be 65 or older.[]

At age 85, Nicholson is 20 years past the age at which dementia is most likely to surface, which may significantly increase his odds of having it.

Beyond age, the Cleveland Clinic stated that other risk factors for dementia include a family history of the disorder, Down Syndrome, heart issues, and brain injuries.

Race and ethnicity could also play a role in the likelihood of having some form of dementia. Hispanic patients are 1.5 times as likely to develop dementia compared with White patients, while Black patients are twice as likely as White patients to develop it.

Research on the horizon

There are several forms of dementia, one of the most common being Alzheimer disease (AD), according to the CDC.

As researchers continue studying AD (which the CDC found accounts for 60%–80% of dementia cases), patients may have greater access to early diagnosis through the use of biomarkers.

A study published in 2023 by Brain looked at the use of plasma biomarkers in a non-invasive approach to trace early AD-related pathologies.[] These abnormalities included the build-up of amyloid-beta peptides, neurofibrillary tau tangles, glial activation, and neurodegeneration.

The results showed that “plasma P-tau181, NfL, and GFAP concentrations were higher in mutation carriers compared to non-carriers,” confirming their feasibility as biomarkers that can be used to detect AD-related abnormalities in individuals who haven’t yet exhibited symptoms.

Monitor changes

Although Nicholson may exhibit some signs and risk factors associated with dementia, it’s ultimately up to his doctors to determine whether he has it.

In the meantime, those closest to him can monitor his behaviors and note any meaningful changes—as can patients’ families and caregivers.

What this means for you

Jack Nicholson’s rumored dementia may cause patients to raise the topic with their clinicians. You may use this as an opportunity to educate curious patients about common signs of possible dementia, which include difficulties in judgment or problem-solving, memory loss, diminished eyesight, or forgetting names, places, or memories. You may also point them to research on the early identification of AD.

Read Next: Memory and misdiagnosis: Deciphering the signs of early symptomatic Alzheimer disease
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