JAMESTOWN – As we get together this holiday season, those on the front lines of the Alzheimer’s and dementia fight are going over guidelines to help families with older loved ones.
The Alzheimer’s Association in Western New York is doubling down on the warning signs families should watch out for as they get together.
With Alzheimer’s being the fifth leading cause of death for adults who are 65 and older, Director of Care and Support Katie Badeau spoke with us to outline some tips.
“This is often when you might see someone you haven’t seen in a while because of Thanksgiving, because of Christmas, because of Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah. It often highlights changes in your loved one that you might not have noticed because you have not seen them in a while, so we do see sort of a shift in the type of calls and questions we’re getting from community members,” explained Badeau.
She is stressing the importance of paying closer attention to any cognitive changes in your elderly loved ones.
“We’ve got 10 warning signs that we teach people about, to pay attention to,” Badeau furthered. “One they might notice especially during the holidays because it revolves a lot around traditions, things we’ve done for a long time, so if you are seeing a change in someone completing a familiar task.”
Badeau says while it’s important to be vigilant, refrain from jumping to the worst possible conclusion.
“Just because you might see some of these symptoms does not mean it’s Alzheimer’s, the big bad scary word it could be a lot of other things,” Badeau continued. “However, too often folks just sit on it and they don’t talk about it and they wait, wait, and wait which is unfortunate because there are things we can do about it, there’s treatments out there, some of these things are reversible.”
That’s why the Alzheimer’s expert says it’s important that everyone knows their helpline is always available to anyone who needs it.
“If you do see something start talking about it and if you don’t know how to bring it up to your loved one, to your sibling, to your parents, to your grandma, call us, it’s literally what we are here for. This is all we do, it’s all we know, and it’s never an easy conversation but there’s tip and strategies for how to bring it up,” said Badeau.
The group tells us they expect calls on their helpline to rise, however that should not stop those with questions from calling anytime of the day. The 24-hour hotline can be reached at 800-272-3900 you can also chat with an expert online at ALZ.org.