Christmas stress: signs to look for

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A word from Alzheimer’s Otago community educator Donna Watt.

Christmas brings the joy of family visits along with many stresses and strains.

For people experiencing memory loss, the struggle can be very real as they put on their best face for guests.

If you’re visiting someone you haven’t seen in a while, there are some warning signs you can look for.

You might see increased confusion as to time and place, or repetition of stories and questions. There may be lots of time spent searching for items like keys, spectacles or wallets.

If you’re beginning to worry about a loved one, think back to what they were capable of five to 10 years ago. How much have things changed? And you should consider the stress levels of their caring partners. Sometimes, that’s the most obvious sign that all is not well.

Be aware that on a short visit, you may not notice anything is wrong.

The pleasure of your visit and reminiscing about the old days may be enough to buoy someone up for a short time, and people in the early stages of memory loss can have an amazing capacity to keep up appearances.

But, if someone who lives with them tries to talk to you about the changes they are seeing, please don’t dismiss it. Listen, and be supportive.

So, what can you do if you have some concerns? If you think the hanges are likely to cause problems in day-to-day life, support them to see their doctor and get things checked out. If you can, go with them to the appointment. If you think that they need support in the home, ask for a needs assessment referral.

Alzheimer’s Otago staff are here to help, too. We offer education and information, and support for both carers and the person with a diagnosis of dementia.

  • Central Otago: (03) 448-9056
  • Queenstown: (03) 441-4955
  • Dunedin: (03) 471-6154 or 80004-001