If you’re spending time with elderly friends and family members this holiday season, be aware of noticeable changes in their memory and behavior, as these can be early warning signs of dementia.
“If you haven’t seen your elderly loved one in a while, you might be more likely to notice changes in their memory and behavior that worries you,” said Dr. Gregory Jicha of the UK Sanders-Brown Center on Aging.
Here are some early warning signs of dementia that you might notice in an older friend or family member:
- It’s normal for someone to forget a date or a name but suddenly remember it later. However, pay attention if they ask for the same information repeatedly, or struggle to recall important dates (like their own birthdate).
- Are they having trouble following a recipe? Problem-solving skills can deteriorate in someone with dementia.
- Do they get lost when driving to a familiar location? If they have difficulty completing familiar tasks, it might be a sign of dementia.
- Healthy people occasionally struggle to find the right word, but using the wrong word – particularly if they call something by the wrong name – merits further scrutiny.
- Poor judgment. Are they giving lots of money to telemarketers or charities? Pay attention to behavior related to important aspects of their life.
- Poor hygiene.
- Personality changes. Are they suddenly irrational, fearful or suspicious? This can be a symptom of serious memory-related problems.