When Holiday Visits Give Cause for Concern
By Margaret Duval
The annual holiday visits to our parents and elderly relatives can be a time of joy and laugher and shared memories. We enjoy special foods, exchange gifts and take the time to appreciate each other with long conversations and lots of reminiscing.
These same visits can also be a source of stress and even anguish, when we observe the possible signs of Alzheimer's disease in someone dear to us. With families so often living far apart and quality time at a premium, it is easy to miss or ignore the fact that our relatives might be exhibiting the symptoms of Alzheimer's. Here at the Long Island Alzheimer's Foundation we find that we receive an increased number of calls for information and referrals around the holidays.
All memory loss and confusion are not due to Alzheimer's disease. There are many physical conditions and drug interactions that can cause these symptoms and these reversible causes should be ruled out as soon as possible. The most important thing to realize is that if it is Alzheimer's disease, early detection can help you prepare for the many challenges that lie ahead. Although there is currently no cure for Alzheimer's there are treatments that can slow the progress, but the greatest success is seen with early diagnosis.
Signs that can signal possible Alzheimer's disease include:
Trouble remembering recent conversations.
Repeating the same information over and over.
Using words incorrectly.
Having difficulty with the names of familiar people or objects.
Trouble with directions to familiar places.
Emotional changes such as becoming more suspicious or irritable.
Alzheimer's disease is not a natural part of growing older, but it is the most common irreversible disease that causes memory loss and difficulty with thinking and functioning. If you observe an older relative having difficulty in any of the areas mentioned above, take steps to address the situation...encourage them to see a healthcare professional right away and call the Long Island Alzheimer's Foundation at 869-9627 for support and more information.
(Margaret Duval is the director of programs and social services for the Long Island Alzheimer's Foundation.)