How to Recognize Dementia in a Loved One—and Why It’s So Important to Speak Up
The holidays are a good time to check in with older relatives. Here’s how to tell what’s normal and what’s not.
By Amanda MacMillan
Getting together with family is one of the true joys of the holidays, especially if you don’t see each other often. It’s a chance to catch up with cousins, see how much kids have grown, and reminisce about the past.
It can also be a good time to check in on older friends or relatives who may not seem as sharp as they used to be—especially those who live independently and don’t have someone paying close attention to them regularly.
“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,” says Gregory Jicha, M.D., professor of neurology at the University of Kentucky Sanders-Brown Center on Aging.
Yes, it’s super uncomfortable to question someone’s mental state—especially a parent or another close family member. But if you suspect there’s a problem, it’s important to encourage them to see a doctor. One reason? About one-third of the time, says Dr. Jicha, memory or cognition problems are caused by something other than Alzheimer’s disease.