Many families typically come together to celebrate during the holiday season. Signs of dementia are frequently noticed first, around the holidays.
Kelly Parsons, family care coordinator with the Sanders- Brown Center on Aging at the University of Kentucky says dementia is a progressive disease, and the decline is gradual. She says gatherings during the holidays can be a prime time to notice early stages of memory impairment which are not normal aging .
“Some of those things are: “difficulty with familiar tasks”, “confusion with time or place” is something we see a lot. If your uncle or really good friend comes in and they’re not dressed appropriately. If they’re in a t-shirt and open toed shoes and its 30 degrees outside that’s certainly a warning sign they’re having a memory impairment problem.” she says.
Parsons says “changes with mood and behavior” could be another red flag. The social worker says the biggest sign of dementia is loss of initiative.
“If you’re on the couch and you know that you need to get the dishwasher unloaded and you say I’m gonna wait until the commercial comes on and then I’ll get up and go, you know,a warning sign of Alzheimer’s Disease is that person just doesn’t have that internal clock. It’s not that they don’t want to unload the dishwasher. They have a disease that isn’t really allowing them to follow through,” Parsons says.
Parsons says signs like these, which are not normal aging ,indicate time for a visit to the affected person’s primary care physician’s office. She says early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or other disorders causing dementia is important in getting the proper treatment and support.
The Alzheimer’s Association reports, in 2018 an estimated 5.7 million Americans have Alzheimer’s/ dementia. There are 71 thousand Alzheimer’s patients in Kentucky.
Listen to a longer version the interview with Kelly Parsons, family care coordinator with the Sanders- Brown Center on Aging at the University of Kentucky.