Published on: December 24, 2017
by Starts At 60:
Christmas is a time for meeting up with loved ones not seen in a while and catching up on the changes in each other’s lives over the past year.
But for some families, it can also be the first time that the signs of dementia in an older relative become obvious, Britain’s national clinical director for dementia has told the BBC.
This is so much so the case, Professor Alistair Burns says, that calls to the Alzheimer’s Society typically rise every January, as families register their concerns about changes in a loved one.
“Dementia is something that happens slowly so it may slip by unnoticed in people we see regularly,” Burns says. “That’s why the Christmas visit to wider family and friends is an opportunity to spot the early warning signs.”
He urged families to take the time to consider whether a relative may need help now that they did not need previously, and even supplied a short checklist of warning signs to look out for over the Christmas period.
Well-known British broadcaster Fiona Phillips told the BBC that that was exactly the case with her own parents, both of whom developed dementia in their 50s.
Phillips, who’s an ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Society, told of arriving at the family home for Christmas one year to find her parents had forgotten to put up a Christmas tree, then gifted her with a soft children’s toy and her brother with a ladies’ sweater.
“We knew things weren’t right,” she says.
Phillips’ mother’s dementia worsened to the point that she required nursing home care by her late 60s, and her father developed Alzheimer’s soon after her mother’s hospitalisation.
The journalist has written openly about the guilt she feels over having not taken her mother in to her own home at the time.
“My mum wasn’t even old. But I still feel I discarded her. That will live with me to the end of my days,” she’s said.
The depression-dementia relationship is complex and similar symptoms can make it difficult to tell the difference between depression and dementia. Adding to the complexity is the reality that women and men differ when it comes to depression. But there is...
Staying socially connected is extremely important for our overall health, including our brain health. A 2019 review article published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that various aspects of social isolation, including low levels...
Although it’s great to celebrate the big achievements, it’s also important to celebrate the small wins.
The material presented through the Think Tank feature on this website is in no way intended to replace professional medical care or attention by a qualified practitioner. WBHI strongly advises all questioners and viewers using this feature with health problems to consult a qualified physician, especially before starting any treatment. The materials provided on this website cannot and should not be used as a basis for diagnosis or choice of treatment. The materials are not exhaustive and cannot always respect all the most recent research in all areas of medicine.