Family gatherings during the holidays are usually times of great joy, but sometimes a bit of concern creeps in. If your parent or another family member isn’t quite themself, how do you know if the difference is significant? According to physicians, there are specific signs that should signal to you that your family member should be evaluated for dementia. Here’s how to pick up on those signs.
Watch for Patterns
Getting frazzled and irritable can happen to anyone, especially during the holidays. But the increased time together may also give you a chance to evaluate how your family member is handling specific challenges. For instance, consider whether your family member is having trouble with:
- Questionable decisions. Did your parent spend a lot more on gifts than normal, perhaps to the dismay of his or her spouse? Is that famously tasteful sense of style suddenly giving way for strange outfits? Poor judgment is one sign of encroaching dementia.
- Difficulty with planning. The various social demands of the winter holidays can often be when a parent’s difficulty keeping track of schedules becomes obvious. If your loved one fails to show up for a party, or loses track of how much time they have to shop for presents, this could be a worrying sign.
- Personality changes. The increased time you spend with your family member during the winter holidays tends to spotlight changes in the way they interact with others. Is your normally outgoing parent or spouse suddenly introverted, paranoid or irritable? And do they seem to lose track in the middle of a conversation, or seem to search for simple words?
If you’ve noticed these or other worrisome signs, it’s important to trade notes with other family members. Family members who live in the area and close friends, in particular, can put any warning signs in context. After all, sometimes erratic behavior can simply be a result of holiday stress. But if you do decide that there is cause for concern, urge your family member to see a trusted physician and accompany them if needed.
Different types of dementia exist, including Alzheimer’s, Dementia with Lewy Bodies and Huntington’s disease. A doctor can evaluate the underlying condition by asking questions such as if hallucinations have occurred, if there are any physical tics, and if memory function seems intact while other skills fade. This kind of diagnostic tool, along with brain scans and other tests, will point the road to the best possible treatment.
Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Help
Not only will medical professionals, family and neighbors be eager to help you set up a plan of action to get your loved one on the road to an effective treatment plan, but Friendship at Home is also here to help. We believe people with dementia can continue to have productive, happy lives, with the right assisted living options.