Memory changes in family

Health news
Health news

The Alzheimer’s Society is warning people about the changes they may have noticed in their family members over the festive season which could signal dementia.

New research launched last week by Alzheimer’s Society shows many people in the South East of England are confused over what could be a sign of dementia and what is more likely to be general absent-mindedness.

The findings come as Alzheimer’s Society reveals that calls to its Helpline increase by a staggering 60 per cent (Dec 2014 – Jan 2015) from people seeking advice and support after the festive season, many of whom are worried about what could be signs of dementia. Website traffic rises by almost 30 per cent.

At Christmas, when people spend a lot of time together with family or friends whom they haven’t seen for a while, they could be more likely to notice changes that could be signs of dementia.

Chris Wyatt, Alzheimer’s Society regional operations manager for the South East, said, “We know dementia is the most feared illness for many, and there’s no question that it can have a devastating impact on people, their family and friends.

“It’s important we tackle confusion around what are and aren’t signs of dementia, and help give people confidence in approaching loved ones about their concerns so people don’t delay getting help. Dementia can strip you of connections to the people you love, but we have many services that can help stop that and support you.”

The research showed many people in the South East did recognise that repeatedly forgetting names of family members and everyday objects could be a sign of dementia (72 per cent). But nearly two thirds (65 per cent) also thought putting everyday objects in the wrong place (e.g. a mug of tea in the cupboard) could mean someone has dementia.

Absent-minded mistakes are relatively common but when a person shows confusion around the order in which day to day tasks are carried out, such as the order in which you make a cup of tea, this could indicate a sign of dementia.

As a result of the findings the charity cautions there needs to be greater understanding about the signs that could indicate dementia.

Dementia affects everyone in different ways, but people should seek medical advice if they notice that they struggle to remember recent events, although they can easily recall things that happened in the past or find it hard to follow conversations or programmes on television.

Forgetting the names of friends or everyday objects or cannot recall things they have heard, seen or read are also signs.

Family members should raise concerns if they notice their loved-one often repeats themselves or lose the thread of what they are saying or has problems thinking and reasoning.

Those suffering from Alzheimer’s can also feel anxious, depressed or angry about their forgetfulness. They might also find that other people start to comment on their forgetfulness and feel confused even when in a familiar environment.

The surveys also found that people are reluctant to speak to a loved one about their concerns, with only 40 per cent saying that they would feel confident starting a conversation about dementia with someone they were concerned about.

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