From the moment the door swings wide open and your elderly loved one wraps you in a warm embrace, through the festive holiday meal and each timeless family tradition, opportunities abound for not just quality time together, but also to assess how the senior is truly doing and if any red flags are noticed.
In particular, there are specific signs that may indicate cognitive concerns, such as dementia. Because Alzheimer’s is becoming increasingly common in older adults, and because early detection and intervention are key, our team of caregivers suggests checking for the following common signs of early Alzheimer’s disease during your holiday visit this year:
- Social changes. According to John Ramsay, CEO of Shift 8,“Dementia can cause people to become closed-off, avoiding any sense of social interaction.” Pay attention to any clues in both the senior’s behavior and conversations that point to his or her preference for reclusiveness and isolation, particularly if the person has always enjoyed socializing.
- Mood swings. Depression, anxiety, and apathy are all key components of early dementia. The disease impacts a person’s ability to process and overcome emotions, sometimes the result of the inability to recall what triggered a negative emotion, leading to increased frustration.
- Memory loss. Problems with memory are at the core of Alzheimer’s disease, in particular, short-term memory. Note whether the senior seems to struggle with recent occurrences, but is able to fully engage in conversations about the past.
- Problems with altered routines. Noticing a sense of disorientation, anxiety or agitation is common during the holiday season, with its likelihood of disruptions to the normal routine. Those with Alzheimer’s tend to rely heavily on familiarity and may appear out of sorts when deviating from the norm.
- Physical changes. Note any evidence of a decline in hygiene or in the cleanliness and organization of the home, particularly if the person has previously been meticulous in maintaining a sense of order.
Any concerns such as these should be brought to the attention of the senior’s primary care physician as soon as possible.
And, it’s helpful to have a trusted senior care partner on hand who understands the nuances of dementia and other issues of aging, and can provide the professional assistance that helps older adults remain safe and well. Contact JFS Care, a top-rated Santa Monica home care agency providing trusted help at home in Santa Monica and the surrounding areas. Call us at (213) 383-2273 to learn more about our highly-skilled, specialized dementia care team and for a free in-home consultation to discover how we can help. Click here to see our full service area.