Holidays are Here – While Enjoying Family Time Look for These Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s

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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]ChristmasThe season’s festivities are well underway. Precious ornaments hang on the holiday tree, and strings of colorful lights brighten up winter’s dreariness. It’s also one of the most momentous times of year when family members, both near and far, gather to celebrate.

With merriments in full swing, the holidays are an ideal time to become reacquainted with loved ones, including senior ones. When younger family members engage with their older counterparts, changes in seniors may become increasingly apparent — changes that signal the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia. The condition affects the brain, leading to memory loss and a gradual decline in reasoning abilities and thinking skills. Once Alzheimer’s disease strikes, the affected individual’s cognitive state slowly and irreversibly deteriorates over a period of years.

Memory loss that disrupts a senior’s daily life is indicative of Alzheimer’s disease. When the relatives and close friends meet during the holidays, it is an optimal time to pay attention to possible warning signs that may indicate the development of this progressive brain disease.

Sign 1: Memory Loss

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During holiday get-togethers, seniors may be newly introduced to their grandbabies or to the significant others of relatives. Upon meeting these newcomers to the family, seniors who show signs of Alzheimer’s may experience a lapse in memory when attempting to recall the individuals’ names.

Forgetfulness of recently learned details, such as names of newly presented individuals, is a telltale sign of the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease, especially if the senior is unable to recall the information later. What is normal, however, is if the older individual forgets names once in a while.

Additional instances of memory loss that indicate the presence of Alzheimer’s is when the senior forgets important events, like an upcoming holiday celebration. The once-prepared senior who suddenly begins to rely heavily on memory aids also shows early signs of this form of dementia.

Not all memory lapses are considered early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Forgetting doctor’s appointments, holiday events or peoples’ names—but remembering them later—falls outside of the scope of Alzheimer’s symptoms. Rather, such instances are a part of age-related changes.

Sign 2: Struggles with Familiar Tasks

Older folks who are in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease are challenged with familiar tasks. Driving to a relative’s house to spend an afternoon writing greeting cards becomes challenging. Alzheimer’s can be the culprit, especially when the senior previously had no trouble getting to the relative’s home.

Aside from difficulty with driving to familiar locales, seniors who show signs of Alzheimer’s disease find organizing simple lists problematic. The elderly individual who plans to shop for ingredients to whip together a peppermint pie will struggle to create a grocery list.

Sign 3: Disorientation

Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care for Henrico, VAWhen Alzheimer’s disease hits, the affected senior will be disoriented. When sitting at the holiday dinner table feasting with relatives and friends, the elderly person may forget in whose home they are or how they ended up as a guest at the gathering.

People in the grips of Alzheimer’s disease simply lose track of the passage of time. They are unaware of the season, even if it is a major holiday one. It is important to note that normal age-related changes include confusion about the season—but having comprehension later.

Sign 4: Difficulty with Words

An extroverted senior with a lifelong passion for conversation may experience new challenges with words when in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. At the holiday gathering, their discussions come to a screeching halt, because they are clueless as to how to continue.

Seniors who show early symptoms of Alzheimer’s also struggle with vocabulary, using unusual word combinations instead of typical, familiar words. When holding a glass of wine at the get-together, seniors with Alzheimer’s may refer to the beverage as “pressed grapes,” for instance.

Sign 5: Social Isolation

Alzheimer’s disease impairs these seniors’ abilities to follow conversations. Older individuals who once participated in holiday events may no longer wish to attend. They are unable to keep up with activities that once brought them joy.

People living with Alzheimer’s also lose the desire to fulfill social obligations. Sleeping for lengthy durations or sitting unfazed for hours in front of the television is not uncommon. Keep in mind, however, that occasional disinterest in social affairs is considered a normal age-related change.

Sign 6: Misplacing Objects

The family may spend time unboxing cherished ornaments that were handed down from previous generations. A senior in the initial stages of Alzheimer’s might place the ornaments in the freezer. If the disease has progressed, the affected senior may accuse others of stealing the precious ornaments.

Sign 7: Poor Judgment

A spirit of generosity is prevalent during the holidays. But, a senior afflicted with early symptoms of Alzheimer’s makes brash decisions, especially with money. Since Alzheimer’s impairs judgment, the senior might unscrupulously empty a hefty portion of her bank account in response to request for a charitable donation.

Sign 8: Personality Shifts

A once-cheerful senior may become agitated and depressed when Alzheimer’s disease makes its stealthy entrance. Personality and mood changes include increased suspicion and bouts of anxiety. They may display uncharacteristic fear and aggression even when amongst friends at the festive gathering.

Dementia is not present, however, when the senior has an established routine and becomes irritable when the routine is not followed. The senior may have a specific way of decorating the house with holiday lights, for instance. Any disruptions to the system that lead to the senior’s vexation is normal.

Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease requires specified attention and understanding, both of which may be received from dementia care providers at Assisting Hands Home Care Richmond. Experienced caregivers offer compassionate memory care services to seniors with any stage of dementia.

At Assisting Hands Richmond we have partnered with Teepa Snow and her Positive Approach to Care®.  Our Executive Administrator, Cathy Hamlin, is a certified Teepa Snow Coach and leads our Caregivers through dementia specific training Assisting Hands Richmond provides a wide range of comprehensive dementia home care services, including companion care, meal preparation, assistance with personal care tasks and medication reminders. If your loved one wanders, our caregivers accompany them to preserve their safety.

Families who anticipate needing memory care find trustworthy support from Assisting Hands Home Care in Richmond, Virginia. We’ll develop a tailored care plan to sustain the well-being of your loved one living with Alzheimer’s – during the holidays and well after.

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