Watch for signs of Alzheimer’s during holidays

Daughter sharing holiday gift with senior father
Dougherty, RN, MS, FAAN, Family and Community Services Consultant at Banner Alzheimer’s Institute.
Jan Dougherty, RN, MS, FAAN, Family and Community Services Consultant at Banner Alzheimer’s Institute

Question: I don’t get to see my parents as often as I would like. And, I worry about them and their health. What should I watch for when I visit them this holiday?

Answer: Each year during the holiday season, Banner Alzheimer’s Institute sees an increase in calls for information about memory and thinking problems. Those calls are welcome because family should watch for warning signs that could indicate issues with memory and thinking. Recognizing early warning signs help families seek help to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Some signs to look for

  • Rapid forgetting. Family members gathered during the holidays may hear an aging parent or grandparent tell the same stories over and over or hear the same questions being asked repeatedly.
  • Parents sitting on the sidelines. What some perceive as withdrawal during the holidays may actually be a family member having difficulty keeping pace with the conversation.
  • Uncharacteristic anger and irritability. The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can cause those with memory and thinking problems to become angry or irritated.

An adult child may notice changes in their parent. They should then speak to the well parent to see if there is a pattern and recent history of similar issues.

If you are concerned, getting early treatment and support is critical.

Adult children can help a well parent seek a diagnosis. Start by seeking online resources about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Places to consider include the Alzheimer’s Association or Banner Alzheimer’s Institute websites.

For more information visit www.BannerAlz.org or call (602) 839-6900 to learn how you can schedule an appointment for evaluation.

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