The Holidays: A Time for Family… and Detecting the Early Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease

A happy grandmother with her family on Christmas Eve
Holiday gatherings are a good time to keep a look out for the signs of early stage Alzheimer’s in loved ones.

From the minute the door swings open and your senior family member wraps you in a warm hug, through the joyous holiday meal and every timeless family tradition, opportunities abound for not only high quality time together, but also to evaluate how your parent is actually doing and if any red flags are observed.

In particular, there are specific indications that will imply cognitive concerns, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Because Alzheimer’s is starting to become increasingly common in seniors, and because detecting the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease are key to proper intervention, the dementia care team at Heaven at Home Senior Care advises monitoring for any of these early signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease during your holiday visit this season:

1. Social differences. 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 hints in both the senior’s behavior and conversations that point to his/her preference for reclusiveness and isolation, especially if the individual has regularly enjoyed socializing.

2. Mood shifts. Depression, anxiety, and apathy are typical components of early dementia. The condition has an effect on a person’s ability to process and manage emotions, often times caused by the inability to recall what sparked an adverse feeling, leading to additional irritation.

3. Loss of memory. Issues with memory are at the core of Alzheimer’s disease, specifically, short-term memory. Note if the senior seems to struggle with recent events, but is able to fully be involved in discussions regarding the past.

4. Difficulties with adjusted routines. Spotting a sense of disorientation, anxiety or agitation is not uncommon through the holiday season, because of its likelihood of disruptions to the normal routine. Individuals with Alzheimer’s are more likely to fall back heavily on familiarity and may also appear out of sorts when deviating from the usual.

5. Physical differences. Notice any proof of a decrease in hygiene or in the cleanliness and organization of the home, especially if the person has previously been careful in maintaining a sense of order.

Any concerns for early signs of dementia ought to be brought to the attention of the senior’s primary care physician at the earliest opportunity.

And, it’s helpful to have a trustworthy senior care partner on hand who understands the nuances of dementia and other challenges of aging, and will give you the specialized help which enables older adults to remain safe and well. Call Heaven at Home Senior Care at (866) 381-0500 or contact our team online to learn more about our Denton home health care experts and the communities we serve.